Books by Kathryn Erskine

THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF BEING by Kathryn Erskine
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"A timeless and affecting, slightly paranormal exploration of familial attachments. (Fiction. 11-14)"
Nine-year-old Julian is gifted both emotionally and intellectually, but these assets come at a sometimes-distressing cost. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

"An excellent perspective from which American readers can learn about apartheid and one of the pioneers who fought it through her art. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
Buoyed by the work of Nelson Mandela and the music of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, Miriam sang to make black South Africans free. Read full book review >
THE BADGER KNIGHT by Kathryn Erskine
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 26, 2014

"The moral is common, but the unusual setting highlights the message that people aren't so different from one another; fans of Karen Cushman will enjoy this. (glossary, author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-13)"
Erskine uses the strife of medieval England as a backdrop to explore differences, puberty and the divided loyalties of war.

Narrator Adrian, almost 13, dreams of being an archer and an apprentice to his father, a master bowyer. However, his sickliness and pallor (he suffers from albinism) are too great for his kind but overprotective father to see beyond. While his friend Hugh is preparing to battle the "pagan Scots," Adrian is scribing recipes, fighting Bessie the ox (oddly, a female) and dodging the barbs of his inaptly named Good Aunt. He brandishes his own slightly bitter wit with droll chapter headings such as "In Which I Write Recipes While Hugh Handles Bessie (and Bess)." Adrian—called Badger for the dirt he smears under his eyes to improve his weak eyesight—sets out to find Hugh and prove himself in battle. His journey into Scotland yields such historical tidbits as the existence of spectacles and the Romans' invention of flushing latrines, which keep the past relevant. Adrian, too, is a typical boy who plays pranks and swears, though exclamations like "Ockham's razor!" lose their novelty after a few too many repetitions. War is also a constant, and Adrian matures quickly upon witnessing its horrors and unexpected kindnesses.

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SEEING RED by Kathryn Erskine
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 24, 2013

"Erskine redeems many faults with a clear passion for racial justice and hope for change. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)"
Big changes are coming to small-town Virginia in 1972. Read full book review >
THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF MIKE by Kathryn Erskine
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 9, 2011

"A satisfying story of family, friendship and small-town cooperation in a 21st-century world. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Sent to stay with octogenarian relatives for the summer, 14-year-old Mike ends up coordinating a community drive to raise $40,000 for the adoption of a Romanian orphan. He'll never be his dad's kind of engineer, but he learns he's great at human engineering. Read full book review >
MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2010

This heartbreaking story is delivered in the straightforward, often funny voice of a fifth-grade girl with Asperger's syndrome, who is frustrated by her inability to put herself in someone else's shoes. Caitlin's counselor, Mrs. Brook, tries to teach her how to empathize, but Caitlin is used to depending on her big brother Devon for guidance on such matters. Tragically, Devon has been killed in a school shooting. Caitlin, her dad and her schoolmates try to cope, and it is the deep grief they all share that ultimately helps Caitlin get to empathy. As readers celebrate this milestone with Caitlin, they realize that they too have been developing empathy by walking a while in her shoes, experiencing the distinctive way that she sees and interacts with the world. Erskine draws directly and indirectly on To Kill a Mockingbird and riffs on its central theme: The destruction of an innocent is perhaps both the deepest kind of psychosocial wound a community can face and its greatest opportunity for psychological and spiritual growth. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
QUAKING by Kathryn Erskine
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 21, 2007

Matt (short for Matilda and not Mattie, thank you) is a teenager whose experiences in the foster system have made her ruefully cynical and bitter. When she comes to live with Sam and Jessica, Matt is puzzled by their commitment to peace—both in their personal lives and in their advocacy against the war in the Middle East. Intrigued, she begins to accompany them to First Day Meetings and learns about the Quaker religion. Matt finds unexpected peace in the silence of Meeting, and begins to practice peace by standing up to a comically belligerent, fiercely pro-war social-studies teacher and a run-of-the-mill school-bus bully, both of whom have their own issues. While the message sometimes seems right on the surface, the setting is unusual and the characters play their roles in ways that readers will understand. As one of the first, if not the first anti-war novel for this generation, Erskine's story will surely open some minds to the idea that peace is nothing to be ashamed of. A good discussion starter on several levels. (Fiction. 11-14)Read full book review >
QUAKING by Kathryn Erskine
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 21, 2007

Matt (short for Matilda and not Mattie, thank you) is a teenager whose experiences in the foster system have made her ruefully cynical and bitter. When she comes to live with Sam and Jessica, Matt is puzzled by their commitment to peace—both in their personal lives and in their advocacy against the war in the Middle East. Intrigued, she begins to accompany them to First Day Meetings and learns about the Quaker religion. Matt finds unexpected peace in the silence of Meeting, and begins to practice peace by standing up to a comically belligerent, fiercely pro-war social-studies teacher and a run-of-the-mill school-bus bully, both of whom have their own issues. While the message sometimes seems right on the surface, the setting is unusual and the characters play their roles in ways that readers will understand. As one of the first, if not the first anti-war novel for this generation, Erskine's story will surely open some minds to the idea that peace is nothing to be ashamed of. A good discussion starter on several levels. (Fiction. 11-14)Read full book review >