Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What We're Reading

Last month, Roxane Salonen mentioned Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. I'd never read it, so I picked it up when we next hit the library.

I loved this book.

As Roxane did, I felt wistful when I reached the end. I wanted to linger a bit longer with those behind-the-scenes facts, fascinating stories and compelling portraits. (Did you know, as an example of a tidbit, that when Gregory Peck first arrived in Monroeville, Alabama to research his role as Atticus that he was mistaken for a homeless man? Or that Lee pictured Spencer Tracy in the role? That the studio considered Rock Hudson?)

What I found most interesting, though, was the development and birth of the manuscript for To Kill a Mockingbird, and the support Lee received during the writing of it. (I won't reveal details, though, as I don't want to spoil it for you.)

I have mixed feelings about biographies of the still-living, especially someone as fiercely protective of her privacy as Harper Lee has always been. But, Charles Shields did an excellent and respectful job here -- he avoided speculating overmuch on matters that do not merit our speculation, and by way of some pretty amazing and extensive research, he managed to paint an overall positive portrait without fawning. He also nicely covered the question Harper Lee must have tired of hearing: "Why didn't you ever write another?"


Anne-with-an-e reads Here in the Bonny Glen every day, so she snatched up Rules at the library after reading Lissa's review. She loved it and passed her recommendation on to Betsy, who had just finished reading and rereading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Anne and Betsy can often be seen rereading a Harry Potter book, too, and they think we should most certainly reread Book 6 together sometime before July, when the next movie comes out.

I mentioned awhile back that Anne was reading To Kill a Mockingbird but I never followed up here on her reactions. She loved it all, and the ending had her in tears. As a mom, as a fan, and as a teacher, there's nothing more satisfying than that.


Ramona just read Little House by Boston Bay. I should say that she reread it, as it was our read-aloud awhile back. Ramona is hooked on all things "Old Little House" at the moment.

She is also enjoying Cynthia Rylant's Cobble Street Cousins series.


Atticus is reading all things American military history, as he's taking a class on the subject. Bleh.


Sarah N. said...

What a great list! I'm putting the Cobblestone Cousins on my list for my 5yo. We haven't gotten to the Charlotte Books yet. We've just started the Martha series. And we are definitely due for a re-read of Charlie and the Chocolate factory.

Skysaw said...

Kudos to Atticus for continuing his education, especially in the face of Mama Karen's nausea. ;-)

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Karen, I missed this post the day it went up due to the flood hubbub, but am so glad you enjoyed the read, too. I liked your analysis of it -- very parallel to how I felt about it. The whole journey of how a book comes to be truly fascinates me -- especially one as widely read as this one. Anyway, glad to help lead you to it!