Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Bethany Hegedus, illus. by Erin McGuire. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-245670-0
Before she was Harper Lee, she was Nelle, a child growing up during the Great Depression in Monroeville, Ala. In one early scene, Hegedus recounts how Nelle, aware of injustice at a young age, defended a boy on the playground: “Dressed in white linen suits, with a high-pitched voice, Tru was an easy target for bullies.” The friends parted ways as children but reunited as adults in New York City (Tru is, of course, Truman Capote). McGuire’s cinematic cartoons call to mind scenes from the To Kill a Mockingbird film—with her chestnut bob and overalls, Nelle readily resembles Mary Badham’s Scout. It’s an affectionate ode to a writer who “carved out a life of her own design,” as Hegedus eloquently puts it. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. Illlustrator’s agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2017
Release date: 01/01/2018
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