In Search of Mockingbird

( 16 )

Overview

A runaway seeks Harper Lee for answers

Sometimes the things that need to be discovered aren't so easily found at home. Erin is certain that this is true in her case. A book is all that connects Erin to her mother, who died when she was a baby. But how much can Erin really learn about her mother from a tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird? On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Erin decides it's finally time to find out. And so begins her bus ...

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In Search of Mockingbird

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Overview

A runaway seeks Harper Lee for answers

Sometimes the things that need to be discovered aren't so easily found at home. Erin is certain that this is true in her case. A book is all that connects Erin to her mother, who died when she was a baby. But how much can Erin really learn about her mother from a tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird? On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Erin decides it's finally time to find out. And so begins her bus journey from Minnesota to Alabama in search of Harper Lee, the reclusive author of Mockingbird.

In a novel full of quirky characters, strange coincidences, and on-the-road adventures, Loretta Ellsworth deftly traces a unique voyage of self-discovery.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A teen's yearning to connect to her long-deceased mother is at the core of Ellsworth's (The Shrouding Woman) novel. Erin, whose mother died when she was three days old, cherishes her mother's worn paperback copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. This book and a few black-and-white photographs are her sole connections to her mother's life. The day before her 16th birthday, Erin's father gives her the diary her mother had kept at 16. After reading a few entries, Erin learns that she shares many similarities with her mother, including their mutual dream of becoming writers. She then discovers that her mother once wrote to Harper Lee asking, "How do you know if you have what it takes to be a writer?" Erin decides she has to meet Harper Lee in person; she sneaks out of the house and boards a bus to Monroeville, Ala. "She'll be there, sitting in her porch swing, waiting to talk to me." The story bogs down during the road trip, with a great deal of attention given to the adults who offer Erin help along the way. When Erin arrives at her destination, she accepts that traveling to Monroeville won't bring her closer to her mother; only her father can fill in the blanks. Erin's journey of self-discovery gives her the courage to confront her own failings and the maturity to accept her father's plans to marry. Though Erin's voice seems younger than her years, readers will root for her while reaching for a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Amanda MacGregor
Erin does not seem to fit in anywhere. Her father is at a loss with what to do with his bookish, daydreaming daughter. Her popular, athletic brothers think that she is a freak, and even her best friend thinks that it is time to get her head out of a book and try to be more normal. Erin's only real connection to anyone is with her dead mother, through her tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Her father never speaks about her mother, so Erin repeatedly reads the novel, trying to learn more through notes that her mother made in the margins and passages. Then on the eve of Erin's sixteenth birthday, her father gives her the journal that her mother kept at sixteen. As she reads it, Erin discovers that her mother wanted to be a writer and had written to Lee. Erin impetuously hops a bus and rides from Minnesota to Alabama to visit Lee. On her pilgrimage, she meets unique people who support her dream of meeting the author and becoming a writer herself. The strength of Ellsworth's novel lies in its quiet plot and Erin's introspection. Although this reader gets nervous for a teenage girl traveling alone cross-country on a Greyhound, not much action takes place. Erin's trip gives her time to think. When she opens up to her new friends about her family issues, she starts to feel closer to her mother. Erin proves that her journey is more important than her destination.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
This is a quiet story of a runaway. Erin is soon turning 16 and her father is getting remarried. Her mother died just after Erin was born and Erin is hungry for information about her mother since no one has ever talked much about her. Erin's favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, and Erin wants to be a writer like Harper Lee. When she finds out her own mother loved the book best of all and also wanted to be a writer, Erin decides to run away and take a bus to the small town in Alabama where Harper Lee lives. (The story takes place in 1986.) This is quite a journey since Erin's hometown is in Minnesota. On the bus, Erin meets two people who change her life. Erin is no fool and she knows she is taking a risk being on her own with limited resources, but she does trust Sedushia, an exotic dancer who misses her estranged adult son. And when Sedushia gets off the bus in St. Louis, Erin meets a geek who is creating a computer game. This fellow is a kind of gentle giant who helps Erin get safely to Alabama and also helps her be reunited with her own family. The journey to connect somehow with her own mother by meeting Harper Lee is believable in the way that Ellsworth writes the story. We like Erin, and we enjoy the way the story ends. This won't have wide appeal, except for YAs who love to write and are trying to find their voices—it would help if they are familiar with To Kill a Mockingbird.
Kirkus Reviews
Believing that the tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird she carries around is her only connection to her dead mother, bookish Erin is angry when her newly engaged father gives her the woman's teenaged diary as a 16th-birthday present. Reading that her mom also wanted to be a writer and even wrote to Mockingbird author Harper Lee, Erin acts on her long-held wish to meet her literary idol. Set over the course of a few days in 1986, and featuring a strong sense of the American landscape, Erin travels the thousand-plus miles from St. Paul, Minn. to Monroeville, Ala. on a bus. Along the way, she is shepherded by two quirky guardians: Sedushia, a middle-aged exotic dancer, and Epps, a big, protective computer geek. With a first-person narrative that is eloquent and credible, and prose that is restrained and economical, Ellsworth makes Erin's unlikely coming-of-age trip convincing. Designed to look like an old journal, the story's searching-for-mother theme should make it especially appealing to older fans of Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie (2000) and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Alice Books. An engaging road trip. (Fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
Praise for Loretta Ellsworth’s The Shrouding Woman:

ALA Amelia Bloomer Feminist Book for Youth

2005 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Master List

CCBC Choices 2003

“[This book] gently breaks new ground for children in removing some of the mystery from what some view as our last remaining obscenity, death. An important offering from a very talented newcomer.” —School Library Journal

“[An] intriguing topic, responsible period research, and skillful thematic development make this an accessible and unthreatening introduction to a neglected area of women’s history.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781428739246
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2007
  • Pages: 181

Meet the Author

Loretta Ellsworth is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novel The Shrouding Woman. A former schoolteacher and mother of four grown children, Loretta lives in Lakeville, Minnesota.

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Read an Excerpt

In Search of Mockingbird

Copyright © 2007 by Loretta Ellsworth

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2007

    THE BEST BOOK OF 2007!

    I thought this book had a real heart and soul to it that made me want to laugh and cry with Erin. My heart broke when the two kids pushed Epp down and called him a freak. I thought Sedushia betrayed Erin by making her talk to Boomer. I knew Erin could travel all the way to Alabama to make her dream come true. I love this book very much, and I know you will too.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2006

    This book is great!

    This is a good, easy read with great tie ins to the american classic 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2007

    Coming of Age Tale with a Unique Twist

    Erin, on the eve of her 16th birthday, discovers the diary of her late mother that reveals her parent's teenage obsession with 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' and her desire, similar to Erin's, to become a writer. Erin impulsively begins a pilgrimage from Minnesota to Alabama by Greyhound to seek out Harper Lee, the reclusive author of 'Mockingbird.' Erin's adventures and the unusual characters she meets along the way keep the reader engrossed. Can be read independently of 'Mockingbird,' but will be a real treat for Harper Lee devotees.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Age reply

    Im readkng this and im in 5 grade. I could have read it in 4.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Age reply

    I would say about 7th grade reading level

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Is this the real one

    Is this the real one ive been looking for it and i usually read the comments first before i buy

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    I love this book!

    I just absolutely loved this book. It is has just a feeling to it that just touches my heart. It was so good I legitimately read it in one sitting. Great book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

    Age...

    Whats the age limit for this book? (For example:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8 ect.) To reply to this title your reveiw,"Age Reply". Thanks SO much!!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    An Okay Read

    Okay, so I just put down this book. I read it in about 2 hrs. Not because I couldn't put it down or anything, but because I had nothing better to do. So here's what I think.<BR/>Character Development wasn't the best. Epp and Sedushia were described okay, and so was Erin, but the other characters were just random. ESPECIALLY Billy. I knew nothing about him except he was a Marine. <BR/>Another thing: Why did the author decide to set this in the 80's? I didn't even notice the 80's setting until halfway through the book. She made no time period references. <BR/>I HATED the ending. Erin's reaction to her chance encounter with harper Lee was pretty bad. She'd come all that way, and was soooo desperate to meet Harper Lee, and she didn't even seem excited! <BR/>Overall, this book was a quick okay read. I think that you have to know To Kill a Mockingbird to read this though. I recommend it to someone that just wants to read something.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2008

    Really Good

    This was really good, a fun teenage read, the main character is easy to relate to.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    A reviewer

    I can't wait to read this book! To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book of all time! Any book that even mentions To Kill a Mockingbird has to be awsome!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

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