Thursday, June 30, 2011

Booktalk: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (Virginia Readers' Choice)

Why would a girl hate recess? Why would she need one-on-one lessons from a teacher on how to be a friend?  Why would she hide in an unfinished wooden chest? Let’s start with the first two questions. Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome. She’s a smart girl and a gifted artist, but she needs more work than most of us on her people skills. She has to learn them and study them almost like you’d study a school subject. Caitlin has to work on which facial expressions on people match up with their corresponding emotions. Because she really doesn’t like making eye contact with people, she has to work hard on that, too. She doesn’t like loud noises, chaos, and people running around and shouting, and that’s recess in a nutshell. Recess freaks her out: she’d rather be alone, drawing.

But it’s so important that Caitlin learn how to make friends and how to be a friend. This connects us to the question of why she was hiding in an unfinished wooden chest. The chest reminds her of the closest friend she has ever had, the person who understood her the most and loved her dearly. Caitlin’s not done with that chest, and luckily, she’s not done with making friends or learning how to be a friend. Get inside the mind of a truly cool and unique girl. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine. 2010: Philomel Books. 235 p. Virginia Readers’ Choice 2011-2012. Booktalk to middle school.

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