I’m beginning this blog with a letter from the rock star librarian of Monroeville, Alabama, Jacqueline “Bunny” Hines, who wrote us this letter yesterday:
Hey ya’ll, It was just divine having you all here yesterday!! The program was top notch, and we had a goat roping to enjoy it!!! We are so blessed to have you all come to our Library. I cannot thank you enough!!! You know how I love Elvis, so I’ve arranged to purchase Graceland for ya’ll as a big gift of appreciation!! There should be a television show called “The Delightful Madden-Lunsford Ladies.” It would be a great success! Please be careful on the road. We’ve got to get ya’ll a tour bus with a chaffeur so road trips won’t wear you out. Maybe we can buy one of Dolly’s used ones. Really, thank you so much for coming to our Library. Love you three to the bone!! Bunny
I met Bunny with my sister, Keely, in 2007 when I first started doing research for Up Close: Harper Lee, and she welcomed us with open arms to Monroeville back then, and I felt like I’d met an old friend. So it was especially lovely to get to bring Lucy, Norah, and Olive back to the library for a writing/storytelling/tree-making workshop, and in Bunny’s words, “We had us a goat roping!” And with close to 100 kids packed in tight for the workshop, I can’t think of a more apt description. We had to dive into the deep end. I invoked the spirit of Kathryn and her beautiful storytelling as I do before every workshop and told the kids they were “storycatchers.” Then Lucy and I told stories, and the kids just started making their trees, and Norah documented everything talking pictures while Olive soaked up the love.
With that many kids, there was an amazing chorus of library angels who jumped in and helped us passing out buttons, scraps of material, glue, shells, ripped up paper bags, and a core of teen girls even drew their hearts.
Then we had an afternoon of “Mockingbird Moments” with the Super Institute of the Alabama Humanities, directed by Professor Nancy Grisham Anderson, a Harper Lee scholar who invited me to speak about the research of the biography. It was great to talk to the 30 or teachers gathered with Lucy and Norah, and Lucy and I shared all the research to writing and illustrating NOTHING FANCY ABOUT KATHRYN & CHARLIE too and Mockingbird Publishers too.
Anyway, I’ll add more thoughts about the day soon, but it was remarkable to be in Monroeville with my daughters and dog. We even ate a BLT Supreme at Radley’s Fountain Grille, which is on the “Bucket List of 100 Things to Eat in Alabama.” It was scrumptious and topped with what else but fried green tomatoes “maters” too! 🙂