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Harper Lee (Up Close) Hardcover – March 19, 2009

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Harper Lee (Up Close) + I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee + Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Up Close
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670010952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670010950
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #696,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* From the Up Close series, this informative biography spotlights writer Harper Lee, who grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, and studied law in college before deciding to become a writer. After working and writing in New York City for many years, she found a publisher for her first novel. Her life was transformed by the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), which quickly became a best-seller, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the basis for an unusually successful movie adaptation. Though Lee appreciated the critical acclaim, she found the unrelenting demands for interviews, public appearances, and personal contact increasingly unwelcome and withdrew. Given the writer’s refusal to grant access to any biographer and her closest friends’ and relatives’ reluctance to discuss her, Madden has done a fine job of researching the novelist’s life and presenting it with respect for her point of view. The sensitive treatment of race relations during Lee’s youth and the section on three trials that may have inspired parts of her novel will interest students researching To Kill a Mockingbird. A lengthy acknowledgments section, source notes for the many quotes, and an extensive bibliography conclude this unusually readable biography of an elusive figure in American letters. Grades 7-12. --Carolyn Phelan


Extensive source notes and an excellent bibliography round out this superb biography, one of the best in the Up Close series. -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

More About the Author

Kerry Madden writes under both Kerry Madden and Kerry Madden-Lunsford. She has written plays, screenplays, journalism (Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Birmingham News, Salon, Southern Women's Review, Shenandoah, Carve Magazine, and Sierra Club Magazine), and published seven books including OFFSIDES, a New York Library Pick for 1997, and now just out as an ebook with FOREVERLAND PRESS.

Her book, WRITING SMARTS, was inspired by the writing workshops she's led with young writers for years and is a guide to sparking stories for kids ( American Girl Company.)

In 2005 she turned her hand to children's fiction with GENTLE'S HOLLER, the first installment in what became the award-winning Maggie Valley Trilogy set in the Smoky Mountains of Appalachia. It earned starred reviews in both Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly, was included in the New York and the Chicago Public Libraries' best books for 2005, and was the featured children's book of North Carolina at the National Book Festival in 2008.

"It is the genuine article," wrote Rosemary Wells of GENTLE'S HOLLER. "Its heroine is as bone-real and endearing as Opal in Because of Winn Dixie."

The next book in the trilogy, LOUISIANA'S SONG (2007) was equally well received, being named a Bank Street College Book of the Year and a finalist for several other awards.

The third book, JESSIE'S MOUNTAIN, was published in 2008 to strong reviews.

Her biography of Harper Lee, published in Viking's UpClose Series, was a Booklist and Kirkus Pick of 2009.

Her picture book, NOTHING FANCY ABOUT KATHRYN & CHARLIE, illustrated by her daughter, Lucy Madden-Lunsford was published by Mockingbird Publishers, and in the summer of 2013, Kerry and Lucy went on a book tour to rural Alabama libraries to do art and writing workshops with children across the state.

Kerry received B.A. and M.F.A. degrees from the University of Tennessee and has been honored as a Tennessee Williams Scholar and a Walter E. Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers' Conference. She has taught creative writing at Ningbo University in China, UCLA, and has visited schools across the country as a guest author doing writing workshops for young authors. She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and editor of PMS, Poem Memoir Short Story, at UAB.

Her new book, FIFTH GRADE, WEREWOLVES, HAMLET & ME is out with publishers for consideration, and she is at work on a new novel, HOP THE POND, drawing from her time in Manchester, England as an exchange student.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
She figured if anyone wanted to know anything about her "they should read the book."
D. Fowler
Now there is a book for the ages...one in which every word is perfect, and every character is fully alive.
When I discovered that Kerry Madden was writing a biography about Harper Lee, I knew I had to read it.
Mary Cunningham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Alicia A. Powers on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I just read "Mockingbird" by Shields and "Up Close" back to back. Shields book was done in 2006, "Up Close" in 2009. There was very little new in "Up Close" that wasn't covered much better and in more detail by Shields. In fact, a lot of the authors' comments seemed almost exact. It's quite amazing that most the citations used were exactly the same. The photo cover for "Up Close" is also the same photo on the back of "Mockingbird," just a mirror version. This version seems a summary of the earlier book. If one wants the shorter version, apparently geared to younger than adult readers, "Up Close" will do, but Shields has also done a "for young readers" version. "Up Close" does update Lee's status since 2006, but that's only 5 or 6 small pages in the last chapter. Madden acknowledges Shields' work as an "unofficial biography," but Harper Lee also declined to cooperate with Madden's work, only wished her "the best, whether [she] pursued the project or not." Regardless of which you read, so far, there are no definitive answers to readers' most often asked questions. Facts are provided as available; some suppositions are drawn. The conclusions are up to the reader.
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Format: Hardcover
Nelle Harper Lee is and was a very private person. "Nelle," pronounced "nail," in Monroeville was "just plain folks," according to the town librarian, Bunny Hines, but to the rest of the world she was quite something else altogether. She was the author of "To Kill A Mockingbird," and that set her forever apart from all the rest of the plain old folks in the world. In 1964 she became fed up with all the journalistic intrusions into her life and "called it quits on all formal interviews by 1964." She figured if anyone wanted to know anything about her "they should read the book." Millions have and millions more will.

Born on April 28, 1926 into a very talented, loving family she soon became "Dody" to them. She was a rootin' tootin' tomboy who wouldn't quit. She loved to play football and if you didn't watch out she just might stiff-arm you and knock you into tomorrow. There was, in addition to her family, one other person she loved and that was her best friend, Truman Capote. Nelle and another friend, Big Boy swiped his Trimotor Ford Airplane when he wasn't home and decided to fly it off "the slanted roof of the Faulks' barn." Enough said on that one. When Truman left in 1932 their friendship not only survived, but flourished (in spite of her wrecking the Trimotor). Oddly enough the two young next door neighbors became two of the south's treasured authors. In this book you will get a glimpse of Harper Lee you may not have seen before from her childhood, to her life in Manhattan, to Hollywood and back home again. If you want to know, her perhaps you will come away with a "feel" for her that may have escaped you in "Mockingbird" or in classroom lectures.

I enjoyed this book tremendously and read many things about her I never knew before.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Teens familiar with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD will find essential this focus on its author, a reclusive figure who has receives relatively little attention despite her award-winning book. Kerry Madden conducted extensive research and personal interviews in Lee's hometown in Alabama for her biography, making for an exceptional survey perfect for readers assigned to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary Cunningham on February 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When I discovered that Kerry Madden was writing a biography about Harper Lee, I knew I had to read it. After all, it would be about my absolute favorite author and my all-time favorite book. Without fail, I devour every single word spoken by narrator, Scout, each time (I've lost count) I read To Kill A Mockingbird. Add one of the most talented and delightful authors, Kerry Madden, to the mix and it's a sure winner.

The young adult author of Gentle's Holler, Jesse's Mountain, and Louisiana Song, the Maggie Valley Trilogy set in 1960s North Carolina, has written the story of Nelle (pronounced Nail in her South Alabama hometown, Monroeville) Harper Lee with loving warmth. I have an idea how much the "Mockingbird" author means to Madden because detailed research and interviews leave no stone unturned.

Nelle, was as much a tomboy as narrator, Scout. This is probably one of the reasons I so identify with the book. Jane Hybart, a childhood friend writes that, during a softball game, she intercepted a ground ball hit by Nelle and was set to tag her out at first base. Instead of letting that happen, Nelle plowed right over Jane, knocking her flat. "Like a freight train," Jane recalled. Nelle was also wild about football, and played center on her hometown 4th grade football team and had no problem. My kinda gal!

I found Harper Lee's insecurity about her writing, refreshing. Reading through the early years of her life, it was easy to see the huge influence played by her supportive father; even if he did think giving up law school to move to New York to write, was an "unpractical profession." He thought she'd be much happier staying in Alabama writing for the Monroeville Journal.
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