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

UPDATE TIME: 2019-01-11 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

"As a reader with a deep appreciation of "To Kill A Mockingbird", I was super excited to share the story of Harper Lee's life with children. I already knew her life story, so I was disappointed to find this book to be basically a timeline of her life and a few important events. There was an expectation that the reader already knew the story and why Harper Lee was important, which a 5, 7 and 9 year old did not. They listened with curiosity in the beginning. As the book progressed, I watched the confusion grow in their faces and finally, disinterest. " said.

"I had high expectations for this book, but it unfortunately fell as flat as the authors bad “southern” similes scattered through out. As an Alabamian who grew up reading(and teaching) TKAM and visiting Monroeville I just felt this could have been such a good teaching tool and introduction to Lee for my children. If one was not familiar with TKAM(which what young elementary student is?) then this book wouldn’t make much sense. The author assumes the reader has prior knowledge, and for an adult that is fine, but for the targeted audience they don’t have that knowledge. Just could have been such a promising book" said.

"“Nelle loved words. She loved the sounds they made, how she could string them together to appease or to rile them up. Words had weight. Words held meaning.”

She was unconventional from the start: wearing overalls, playing rough and tumble games and watching trials rather than movies. A young girl in the south, she spoke up for the victims of injustice on the playground, sometimes letting her fists do the talking. As a college student, she chose to quit law school and become a writer instead. Using experiences from her childhood, she created one of the most beloved books of all time.

A thoughtful, easy introduction to Harper Lee that might just inspire readers “to carve out a life of [their] own design.”
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"I have fond memories of reading To Kill a Mockingbird when I was young. So, I was excited to read this picture book about Nelle Harper Lee. As an adult reader, I loved learning more about Lee and her connection to Capote, and I think the author and illustrator created a beautiful text. However, the intended audience is 4-8 year olds, and I'm having a hard time imagining how a young reader could relate to the historical context of the book, the images that conjure memories of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, or the quotes from the novel embedded throughout. Perhaps it would be more suited to a teacher read aloud at the middle or high school level when students are experiencing To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time." said.

"The illustrations are the best part of this book—some
With lots of details and others more sparse to reflect the emotions at that time in the story. I knew the story already and didn’t learn anything new, but as the target age group is 4-8 years old, it seems appropriate. Both of my daughters would have loved this story at that age range. The one illustration that seems “off” is when Harper is walking by a line of black people and the writing describes how whites and blacks were segregated. She was born just three years earlier and looks too old to have been noticing the lines and the segregation—i just feel like it would have been fine without her walking in the background...or maybe to not have listed the year 1929, but state only about the impact of the Great Depression.

Adults who love To Kill a Mockingbird would probably love sharing this book with their child.
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"How many times have you read To Kill A Mockingbird? At least once, right? It’s amazing to consider how one book continues to touch so many lives. What does it take to write the great American novel? In Alabama Spitfire, readers get an idea of what makes an author noteworthy. Young Nelle Harper Lee was a reader, a writer and an observer. She watched her father, a lawyer, fight cases in the courthouse. She wondered about her reclusive neighbors and wrote stories about them. These childhood experiences prepared Lee to write a book we all know and love. Children will appreciate the illustrations that have a cinematic feel to them. The interesting storyline will compel readers to make observations and write. Who knows, maybe one day they will write the next great American novel!
See my blog post for a lesson idea on curating author information.
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"A richly illustrated book, Alabama Spitfire is a biography of Harper Lee. Especial attention is given to her youth and the relationship between those events and those in To Kill a Mockingbird. Nevertheless, I found some parts lacking, with little space dedicated to the racial injustices that informed her writing. That said, the author presents a picture of Lee as a stubborn tomboy who looked out for those who were stigmatized—such as her childhood friend, Truman Capote.
Some details of the text also need explanation. For example, Lee is given a Christmas present from Capote and his friends to devote herself to writing for a year. It is not stated whether this was financial backing or simply the encouragement to writer. It is not until I read the author’s note that I discovered that it was the former.
In addition to notes at the end of the book, there is a bibliography and suggested videos. These features do not seem to be geared toward the primary audience, but rather teachers who might be interested in using this as supplementary material.
I give this book four stars. I think that it will be appealing to students in third through fifth grades, even though it suggests ages 4-8. That might be so, provided that an adult can either read the text to them or provide explanation. (Reviewed by Ross Hughes)
" said.

"I loved the voice of this book, how it rolled and made this story not seem long as it is without speaking down to the readers. However, it still barely introduces the issues of the time in any emotional way. I would have liked to have seen Nelle Harper Lee expressing her emotions as a child about the injustices she saw. But the inference is there, and the art shows those sequences well about segregation. I found the illustrator's style to be richer and more realistic in showing those of color, and wish she had been less cartoony in her renditions of Nelle. It had a little bit of Disney feel in that regard. This is definitely a book for the older range of picture book readers, because few younger children are going to run and read the actual book TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. On the other hand, it introduces ideas about problems she noticed, and that she thought it important to write about thee things. It shows a story about a woman writer long ago, how to reached her goal of publishing her book - a story in itself that all writers should read to remind them they are not alone in the years it often takes. Also practical for aspiring young writers to consider. And her book was a bestseller to all kinds of people. Plus, there are some kids who watch the movie, like I did, way before they would read the book... hopefully some parents still allow their kids to watch this in lower grade school.
" said.

January 2019 New Book:

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