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

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  335 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Nelle Harper Lee grew up in the rocky red soil of Monroeville, Alabama. From the get-go she was a spitfire.

Unlike most girls, Nelle preferred overalls to dresses and climbing trees to tea parties. Nelle loved to watch her daddy try cases in the courtroom. And she and her best friend, Tru, devoured books and wrote stories of their own. More than anything, Nelle loved words.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 23rd 2018 by Balzer + Bray (first published 2018)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  335 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Stephanie Anze
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nelle Harper Lee was not like the other girls. She prefered climbing trees over tea parties and overalls instead of frilly dresses. What she liked most however, was writing and she started doing that alongside her dear friend Tru. Lee did not know it then but she was to author one of the most iconic books ever written.

Harper Lee is a legend among us readers. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is more than a classic, its a great book all around. Prior to reading this, I had no idea how much Lee's hometown p
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, childrens
A wonderful biography of Nelle Harper Lee and how the best selling novel To Kill a Mockingbird come to fruition.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
With the famous quote, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Is spoken by a well beloved character named Atticus Finch who is based off of Harper Lee’s father.

Nelle Harper Lee grew up in the rocky red soil of Monoreville, Alabama. From the get-go she was a spitfire. Nelle loved words more than anything and her and her best friend Tru would devour books and write stories together in their spe
Jason Gallaher
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Due to Harper Lee's history of being reclusive, I didn't know much about her, so I learned a ton about Lee's life in ALABAMA SPITFIRE. I had NO IDEA she was besties with Truman Capote! Erin McGuire's illustrations go so well with the story. I especially loved her depiction of setting. I could feel the slower pace of Alabama compared with the hustle and bustle of New York City.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book! I found the story engaging and interesting, but the wonderful illustrations won the day. And extra bonus points for including the Flatiron Building in the scenes of Nelle in NYC!
For middle-grade readers and older, Bethany Hegedus offers a brief look at the life of Harper Lee, from childhood to her death. Clearly, Harper Lee was a unique person, in childhood on. She set herself apart from what she termed the "'pink penitentiary' of girlhood", played in overalls with her brother, did sit in her father's lap reading the newspaper with him, and was not afraid to defend her friend, Tru, who visited his aunts in the summer. Sound familiar? It's part of Harper Lee's beautiful ...more
It's a given that a book about Harper Lee is going to pique my interest. Alabama Spitfire, a new picture book biography about the reclusive author and the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird gets two thumbs up from this Mockingbird fan.
I thought this was well done. The biography adequately summarizes the author's childhood and journey towards becoming a published author. As I have read nearly everything about Harper (Nelle) Lee I can get my hands on, I will say it seems accurate as far as I ca
Inspiring children's book that examines Harper Lee's writing life, with an author's note at the end that sets her story in the context of 20th century history. Although the title places her firmly in the Alabama of her roots, the book also describes her life in New York as an independent writer and friend of celebrated author Truman Capote. The author also discusses how some events in Capote's and Lee's youth shaped the story of To Kill a Mockingbird, and she emphasizes Harper Lee's passion for ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great children's biography of Harper Lee, and I was delighted throughout reading it. The illustrations will keep kids engaged to the gracefully and simply written story of Harper Lee's life. It made me want to re-read it right away, and then to reach for To Kill a Mockingbird again.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A mini biography of Harper Lee told in a child's picture book format. It tells of her childhood wish to write stories and how she came to be able to do just that.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lovely and inspired picture book about the little spitfire Nelle Harper Lee who grew up to write the great American novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Reading this book made my ten year old want to read Harper Lee's work, and it resulted in him asking lots of questions about civil rights and authors. This is a fantastic biography for anyone who loves TKAM or wants to introduce a new generation of readers to Harper Lee.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alabama Spitfire is a lovely and compelling story for kids and adults. It is beautifully written and illustrated. It captures the life of Harper Lee which inspired TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, one of America's important books. I loved it and I know my granddaughters and other kids will as well.
Michele Knott
Interesting to learn more about Lee's early years, but I'm wondering how young readers, who probably haven't even heard of MOCKINGBIRD will react to this book.
None of the girls know this story yet, but it's a good way to prepare them for it. 3.5 stars.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a children's picture book about Harper Lee. It would be an excellent introduction to the book, To Kill A Mockingbird. The illustrations are wonderful and the text is meaningful.
J & J
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For the intended audience, this book is well done. It nicely simplifies Lee's complicated life.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
A great picture book for To Kill a Mockingbird loving parents to read to their littles!
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well told which is why I gave it 4 stars. Having said that, this is yet another picture book being published this year that will be more interesting to adults than it will be for children.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” for the very first time as required reading as sophomore in HS. It was the best “required reading” I had ever done at that time. I can remember wondering why we couldn’t read more “required reading” like this...books that made you think, books that made you excited to get to the next chapter. I can remember asking my English teacher why Scout and Jem called their dad, “Atticus.” I can remember that same English teacher allowing us to create our own quizzes for the ...more
It's tough to write a children's biography about Harper Lee...because she was so quiet. Yes, a quiet spitfire. But quiet.

This does a good job of filling in the bare bones...Monroeville, Dill, her family, her work in NYC...

Nothing new, and nothing to help us see her in a new light. Not these author's and illustrator's fault, certainly
Another one toward my 2018 goal of reading 12 picture book biographies of women!
Deb Beal
Jul 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
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 co ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This story is about how Harper Lee’s childhood influenced so much of To Kill a Mockingbird. The book calls Lee a “spitfire,” but doesn’t really explain what that means, aside from shunning feminine fashion and defending her childhood friend, Truman Capote, from bullies. This book already assumes you’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird, which is kind of strange for the intended audience. The author proudly states in a end note that children as young as fourth graders read excerpts of To Kill a Mockingb ...more
Bonnie Lambourn
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
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, a ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nkyclear
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
The beginning of the book is reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, through both aspects of the story and visually. I planned on using this at the beginning of the novel study, but it would be worth going back to and at the end for students to see the connections. The thematic idea of being a "spitfire" could have been a little stronger. Harper Lee's personality didn't jump off the page like I thought it should have.

I liked the additional author's note at the end and I think I would share this w
Maureen Schlosser
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 experie ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, picture-book
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 w
“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. Usin
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
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 Atti ...more
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