Say that you’re browsing Twitter one day, and Wil Wheaton retweets something from a group called I Kill the Mockingbird. Being a book-loving person, you’d totally get curious and click through, right? I know I would.
When you click through, you realize that the group appears to be devoted to preventing people from reading the book…so you’d probably want to re-read it, right? So you’d wander on down to your local bookstore (assuming that that’s a possibility where you live, sigh), and you’d attempt to buy a copy. But when you got there and found all of the copies not just missing, but replaced with an I Kill the Mockingbird flyer, you’d start to wonder: Is there an actual Mockingbird conspiracy? Is this a publicity stunt, or is it a case of grassroots censorship?
You’d probably never guess the actual origin of the campaign, which is this: three almost-ninth-graders attempt to honor the memory of a much beloved teacher by getting people excited about reading…by upping demand and removing supply. Yes, our little literary anarchists become every librarian’s and bookseller’s worst nightmare: they zoom around Connecticut, hiding every copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that they can find. And then, due to the Power of the Internet, their campaign takes on a life of its own, spreading across the country and (possibly) beyond!
Paul Acampora’s I Kill the Mockingbird is a lot of things, but it can easily be summed up in one word: WARM. It’s warm, it’s affectionate, and it’s full of nuggets that will make bibliophiles’ hearts sing. I loved the nod to independent bookstores and the explanation of library weeding, but my favorite was this bit:
Elena and Michael tease me about my love for Shark Wars, but I don’t care what they think. Talking sharks are cool, and not every book has to be a classic.
Rock on with your bad self, Lucy! Make no excuses for reading what you like to read, and never let anyone make you feel ashamed of your reading choices! DOWN WITH LITERARY SHAMING! Ahem.
The dialogue—especially between the three friends—is zippy and rings true, and Lucy’s narration is just a flat-out joy to read. I Kill the Mockingbird touches on a lot of Big Things—family and friendship, love of books, cancer, death, the comfort of religion and the beauty of baseball, the possibility of miracles, even the meaning of life itself—but it reads as a mostly light-hearted story of one summer in the life of three best friends. Appropriately, as in To Kill a Mockingbird, while the book does have an overarching plot, the chapters could also be read as interconnected vignettes. If you’re looking for plot holes, you’ll find them—it ignores Internet retailers as a book source, for instance—but if you go in looking for a quirky summer romp, you’ll find that, too.
Adorable, funny, satisfying and smart!
Full disclosure: According to the Acknowledgements at the end, I Kill the Mockingbird was partially inspired by a “conversation about summer reading” that took place across the kidlitosphere. I didn’t realize it until I’d finished reading the book, but Acampora cited my blog as a source, as well as Pam Coughlin’s MotherReader, Colleen Mondor’s Chasing Ray, and Betsy Bird’s A Fuse#8 Production. So that was a nice surprise!
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or running the show at her local library, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while rewatching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.