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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pam Laird on 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

The title comes from an old proverb, “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

Have you read this book? If not, don’t hesitate, I am so impressed, I bought my own copy.

Interestingly, there has been resurgence in the popularity of this novel and as a consequent several new printings of To Kill a Mocking Bird are now available. The recent 50th anniversary in 2010 of the launch in 1960 may have something to do with this. But I guess this novel based on Harper Lee’s own family and local town, would become a much-loved American classic.

Here, as writers, we have lush food for thought. As the pundits say, ‘write what you know.’ This is a shining example of freshness and validity borne of acute observation from an empathetic writer. This is a lesson in writing using a simply told story of a sad aspect of life.

I was delighted to come by this book just recently and ashamed I hadn’t read it years ago. I am full of admiration for Harper Lee’s clever use of language and her interpretation of the thoughts and actions of a young child, i.e. Scout or more properly, Jean Louise. Scout is around seven or eight as the story continues over a year or so.

I believe it has been standard reading in secondary schools, (certainly in the States) for many years and I can guess how much fun young students would have with the thinking, reasoning and logic of young Scout. They would see in her a mirror image of themselves, enquiring, wondering, frustrated, anxious, so much a part of a young child’s struggle to make sense of a big, confusing world.

If The Boy in Striped Pyjamas can be read and enjoyed by some 8 to 10 year olds, then this gently humorous story with the sadness of racism cropping up from time to time, would be a great read for any intelligent 8 to 10 year old and of course older children and adults. Especially those living where pitiless racism is still a given in life as it can be in parts of the States and of course to some degree in most countries.

If you haven’t already read it, line up one at the library because this is a real treat and unforgettable.


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