About Kathryn Erskine

Kathryn ErskineI grew up in Europe, Africa, Canada, and the United States, and was a lawyer before I figured out what I really wanted to be when I grew up—a writer! I take my inspiration from the world around me and from my personal experiences, including my childhood attending 8 different schools.

I travel a fair amount, give speeches, visit schools, etc. and try keep up my website in between. Writing time is precious -- I'm currently working on several novels:  middle grade, young adult, and even adult, and some picture books. My latest novel is THE BADGER KNIGHT, an adventure.  My newest (and first) picture book, MAMA AFRICA, the story of Miriam Makeba, South African civil rights activist and singer, is due to publish in 2017.

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September 18 2017

My favorite review line for THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF BEING (from School Library Journal):  "Julian's distinctive narration, awash in supernatural perceptions as well as a nine-year-old's natural misconceptions, is a tour de force....Touching contemporary magical realism, with a final twist that truly surprises."

September 18 2017

STARRED REVIEW for MAMA AFRICA!  From Kirkus:  "An excellent perspective from which American readers can learn about apartheid and one of the pioneers who fought it through her art."

Also, illustrator Charly Palmer's artwork for MAMA AFRICA has been accepted by the Society of Illustrators for their "The Original Art" exhibit, highlighting the best artwork for children's books, 2017.  Congratulations, Charly! 

December 2 2016

So thrilled to announce my new novel, THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF BEING!

Publishing Fall 2017 (Scholastic) 

It's what happens when you take a boy named Julian, his anxiety, a telescope, a treehouse, a life jacket, a Styrofoam boat, s'mores, even a statue of the BVM (as Julian would say, "Look it up"), and shake them up with a lot of personalities ... they turn into what I hope is great ride.

Short version: Like MOCKINGBIRD, only funny.


August 19 2016

In an effort to expand my world view beyond American and European literature (what I grew up with) I'm up to 56 countries now -- see "2016 Reading Project" -- and still reading.  I'm enjoying the experience and also struggling with finding books from some countries, given my (embarrassing) English-only limitation.  Currently at around a quarter of the world's nations, I fear I may only get to about half.  If anyone has suggestions, please let me know! 

May 1 2016

Schools looking for class sets or multiple copies, paperbacks of SEEING RED are available through Scholastic here:  http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/save-books-order-your-visiting-authors-work!

April 9 2016

Here's a recent blog interview, with thanks to David Binder.  Also, PLEASE NOTE the new tab for my "2016 READING PROJECT."  I'll be updating the list of books from around the world periodically!

January 1 2016

My 2016 Reading Project – A Children’s Book from Every Country of the World

Although I grew up in six countries, I realize that my reading has been disproportionately American and European authors. Inspired by Ann Morgan’s TED Talk and blog, A Year of Reading the World, my 2016 project is to read a children’s book from every country of the world (using the UN list of member states although I’m happy to include the observer and other states).  I found links to international children’s book sources on Ann Morgan's blog, and my local librarians have been fabulous, but if anyone has advice for finding more children’s books written by non-U.S. authors or has a favorite book that meets these criteria, please contact me: 

1)  the author at least grew up in that country, even if living elsewhere now
2)  the book is available in English

Ideally, I’d love the book to be reflective of the culture (which I interpret very broadly) or important events that happened there or be about current issues.  For example, my U.S. book is All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. 

I’d also like a mix of picture books and novels.  Frankly, I’m not a fast reader and 200 children’s novels would take a long time to read on top of other reading, writing, teaching, traveling, and life in general.

As I gather books, I’ll list them here by country, author and title, and eventually, what I’ve learned -- the fascinating differences and the common denominator, humanity.  Thanks for your help!  Peace, Salam, Shalom.

December 1 2015

Mockingbird -- or Passarinha in Brazilian Portuguese -- is being made into a play in Brazil!  I'll actually be there in a couple of months but will miss the production, scheduled for September 2016.  I'm thrilled and honored, though.  Thank you, Sao Paulo!

August 29 2015

Thanks, Scholastic for featuring me in the "Author Spotlight" for Seeing Red and The Badger Knight!

July 24 2015

More exciting book news coming soon ....!

July 3 2015

Mama Africa, my first picture book, is a go!  Here's the blurb from Publishers Weekly:

Grace Kendall at Farrar, Straus and Giroux has bought Mockingbird author Kathryn Erskine's debut picture book, Mama Africa, to be illustrated by Charly Palmer, also a debut. The book tells the story of Grammy Award-winning South African singer and civil-rights activist Miriam Makeba, who brought global attention to the injustice of apartheid through her music while in exile. Publication is tentatively set for 2017; Linda Pratt at Wernick & Pratt Agency represented the author; the illustrator represented himself.

I can't wait to share her story -- and to see the stunning illustrations from Charly Palmer!

July 3 2015

Thanks to the Fairfax Network, here's my appearance on the Meet the Author show!  There are clips about my research for Mockingbird and how I overcome writer's block, as well as info about the Mockingbird play and links to study guides for Mockingbird and Seeing Red.


  • “Mockingbird is going to be a play in Brazil! I'll be there in a couple of months but too soon for the first performance which is slated for September. Thank you, Sao Paulo!”

  • “The integration of historical facts into the text is seamless ... it is all so cleanly embedded into Adrian’s gripping, often harrowing, adventures.”
    - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review

  • “Erskine has written a powerful indictment of injustice in all forms and an equally powerful and dramatic demonstration that young people, by taking individual action, can actually change history. This is an important book that deserves the widest possible readership.”
    - Booklist, Starred Review

  • The Absolute Value of Mike is a comedy about deadly serious things.”
    - The New York Times

  • “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. ”
    - Kirkus, Starred Review

  • “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.”
    - Kirkus

  • “National Book Award winner Erskine gives her unlikely warrior a lively voice, and the narrative cleverly upends Adrian's assumptions and prejudices.”
    - Publishers Weekly

  • “Erskine frankly explores the difficulty in fighting a corrupt system, but also stresses the difference one individual—even a child—can make, providing hope that justice can prevail.”
    - Publishers Weekly

  • “A satisfying story of family, friendship and small-town cooperation in a 21st-century world.”
    - Kirkus

  • “...this novel is not about violence as much as about the ways in which a wounded community heals.”
    - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

  • “Kathryn Erskine's Matt is a fragile character with a solid core of strength, and this novel beautifully explores her life-saving, life-changing growth.”
    - Children's Literature

  • “...the unusual setting highlights the message that people aren’t so different from one another; fans of Karen Cushman will enjoy this. ”
    - Kirkus

  • “Seeing Red is a boy's twist on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.”
    - ALAN (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents)

  • “The wacky cast, rewarding character growth, and ample humor make this an effortless read.”
    - Publishers Weekly

  • “Allusions to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the portrayal of a whole community’s healing process, and the sharp insights into Caitlyn’s behavior enhance this fine addition to the recent group of books with narrators with autism and Asbergers.”
    - Booklist

  • “In the end, the narrator chooses to abandon her restricting and no-longer-needed survival skills to become the hero of her own life.”
    - VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)