The friendship of Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote, inspiration for Scout and Dill in Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, is fictionalized in “a flavorful bowl of southern homestyle yarns.”
A girl dressed like a boy and a boy dressed like Little Lord Fauntleroy meet and become fast friends in Monroeville, Alabama, “sometime in the Great Depression.” They contrive adventures to spice up life in Monroeville, and their stories add up to a fine re-creation of small-town Southern life. Young readers will enjoy Nelle and Tru’s treehouse, adventure at the courthouse, their brush with the Ku Klux Klan, Nelle’s father, Amasa Coleman Lee, staring down the Grand Dragon, and reclusive spooky neighbor Sonny Boular firing their imaginations. Older readers, including all of the teachers of the classic novel, will see in these childhood adventures the makings of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the author’s note adds helpful information and mentions Go Set a Watchman without getting into the intricate relationship of that novel to its famous offspring. Since Nelle and Tru loved writing stories, Neri even includes “reimagined” short stories from Nelle’s and Tru’s lives. The charming and elegantly written novel doesn’t shy away from issues of mental illness, child abandonment, and racism, but they are woven neatly into the fabric of the characters’ lives in the tiny Southern town.
An engaging portrait of two children’s world before they became famous. (Historical fiction. 10-12)