Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee by Marja MillsMockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee by Marja Mills

I have grown to like audio books again.  I stopped listening to them when I stopped having to commute to work.  However, I now find they are also great when I am spending a lot of time in the kitchen or soaking in the bathtub.  So, when I ran across an electronic copy of ‘Mockingbird Next Door’ through my local library’s website, I couldn’t  resist.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee was published in 1960, 3 years before I was born.  If you were born and raised in the United States, chances are that it was required reading in your high school.  It certainly was in mine.  However, my family had a healthy book collection in the large built in bookcase in our basement.  Books added up between my parents and three much older siblings.  I never seemed to be able to get enough to read as a child and was often browsing books to find something to read next.

The cover had a girl on it so I mistook it for a kids book and started reading it.  I was in 5th grade.  My parents never restricted my reading to “age appropriate” books.  I devoured ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’! 

In high school, I was so excited to get the opportunity to discuss it with my teacher and classmates.  However, because I confessed that I already read it, my teacher gave me a different book to read as well  This happened a lot, all through high school.  I was in honors classes but still found that I had already read many of the books assigned.

My point is, I loved ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’!  I’ve read it three times and plan to read it a fourth before I read ‘Go Set a Watchman’ that was recently published.

It is well know that Harper Lee stopped talking to the press and making appearance in 1965.  So when I ran across this biography, I figured it was unauthorized.  So, of course, I Googled it.  The author,  Marja Mills claims that she had Harper Lee’s permission to write and publish it but Lee was quoted as denying that.  No matter, she did give Marja Mills permission to move into the house next door to hers in Mobile, Alabama and did become friends with her.  So much so, that she was invited into Harper and her sister, Alice’s, close circle of friends.  Harper Lee also knew that she was writing a book about her.  I can’t say that was giving permission or not but I certainly don’t feel guilty for listening to the audio book.

I really liked ‘Mockingbird Next Door’.  It was the perfect audio book to unwind with in the bath.  It wasn’t too serious, instead it sounded more like friends getting together for dinner or coffee, which  happened a lot in the book.  It certainly wasn’t ground breaking.  Ms. Mills talked about the Lee’s childhood including Harper, actually known as Nelle Lee, her sisters Alice and Louise. She also talked about what Nelle did before she wrote the book and her part in the making of the movie.

Nelle became friends with Gregory Peck and they kept in touch even after the filming.  There were a bunch of little tidbits in the book but mostly common knowledge.  Yet I found comfort in it. As Mills often quoted Nelle as saying about certain things, “it’s delicious.”  

Would I have liked more nuts and bolts/new information?  Yes, it would have been nice.  However, I didn’t really criticise it for that.  It kept me engaged, was well written, and to my mind, respectful.  To me, respectful is the most important element in a biography like this.  I also really enjoyed the smooth voice of the narrator, Amy Lynn Stewart.

If you are interested in Harper Lee, I do recommend that you read or listen to this book.  If you do, come back and let me know your thoughts.

Have you read ‘Mockingbird Next Door’?  If so, what do you think of it?


About Marja MillsMockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee by Marja Mills

Marja Mills is a former reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, where she was a member of the staff that won a Pulitzer Prize for a 2001 series about O’Hare Airport entitled “Gateway to Gridlock.” The Mockingbird Next Door is her first book.

Mills was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin.  She is a 1985 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; a lifelong interest in other cultures led to studies in Paraguay, Spain and Sweden.  Mills lives in downtown Chicago and often spends time in Madison and her father’s hometown of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, pop. 3,500.

Today it is my immense pleasure to kick of the Hidden In Plain Sight tour! Wow, this book blew me away!

Book Description:

Publisher: Informed Decisions Publishing, October 8, 2013
Category: Nonfiction – multicultural; cultural/social issues; biography & memoirs; art criticism
Tour Dates: February, 2014
Available in: ebook143 pages
Norman Rockwell’s America was not all white. As early as 1936, Rockwell was portraying people of color with empathy and a dignity often denied them at the time. And he created these portraits from live models.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America unfolds, for the first time, the stories of the Asian, African, and Native Americans who modeled for Norman Rockwell. These people of color, though often hidden in plain sight, are present throughout Rockwell’s more than 4000 illustrations. People like the John Lane family, Navajos poignantly depicted in the virtually unknown Norman Rockwell painting, “Glen Canyon Dam.” People like Isaac Crawford, a ten year old African-American Boy Scout who helped Norman Rockwell finally integrate the Boy Scout calendar.
In this engrossing and often humorous narrative, Jane Allen Petrick explores what motivated Norman Rockwell to slip people of color “into the picture” in the first place. And in so doing, she persuasively documents the famous illustrator’s deep commitment to and pointed portrayals of ethnic tolerance, portrayals that up to now have been, as Norman Rockwell biographer Laura Claridge so clearly put it, “bizarrely neglected”.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America is an eye opener for everyone who loves Norman Rockwell, everyone who hates Norman Rockwell and for all those people in between who never thought much about Norman Rockwell because they believed Norman Rockwell never thought much about them. This book will expand the way you think about Norman Rockwell. And it will deepen the way you think about Norman Rockwell’s America.
My Thoughts:
When Jane Allen Petrick asked me if I wanted to read her book, Hidden In Plain Sight, I knew I had to, after reading the description.  You see, I always thought that the great American artist, Norman Rockwell was raciest.  I never read anything about him, so my perception came purely from the paintings of his that I saw.  The people were always white in them.  
It turns out, that I want in the minority with that perception however, in Hidden In Plain Sight, Jane Allen Petrick sets us straight. There are actually quite a few paintings where he address social and civil rights issues.  Petrick even writes about the real life African American, Chinese American, and Native American models he used in his paintings.  She has had the privilege of meeting some of the models and they shared their stories of meeting and modelling for Norman Rockwell.
So why haven’t many of see this other side of Rockwell?  Those of you my age and older, may remember some on the Saturday Evening Post magazine’s, Norman Rockwell covers.  He was under contract to create all those covers for them.  They would only allow paintings of wholesome looking white people.
This book is such a gem.  I felt like I got to know some of the models along with Petrick.  It read more like a memoir than a biography, one that I couldn’t put down.  I read it in one sitting and was up until the wee hours of the morning.  I found it absolutely fascinating.  This a book I think all Americans should read.  I just hope that Jane allen Petrick writes a follow up.  I cannot recommend it highly enough!
I received an ebook copy for my honest opinion.
View the Trailer:

About Jane Allen Petrick:

Jane Allen Petrick is the author of several books on topics ranging from biography to workplace issues. She was a bi-weekly columnist for the Knight Ridder Newswire, and her articles have appeared in numerous publications including theNew York Times, the Denver Post and theWashington Post.  Kirkus Review describes her book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America as “smart, nuanced” and written with “clarity and insight.”
Born and raised in Connecticut, Jane earned a BA in economics from Barnard College and received her Ph.D. in organizational psychology from Saybrook University. Retired as a vice-president of ATT Wireless, she is now an adjunct professor at Capella and American Sentinel Universities, and has provided consultation in organizational behavior and diversity competence to numerous corporate clients including IBM, Nextel and Xerox.
Jane Allen Petrick was chosen as one of the “100 Best and Brightest Business Women in America” by Ebony Magazine.
Long a passionate supporter of cultural and historic preservation, Jane has contributed to local preservation efforts in both Florida and New York State. A licensed tour director, Jane conducts cultural heritage tours on the East Coast, from the Everglades to the Maritimes.
Jane and her husband, Kalle, divide their time between New York’s Hudson Valley and Miami, Florida.
Buy Hidden in Plain Sight:
Thanks to Jane Allen Petick, we are giving away ebooks editions of Hidden In Plain Sight.  This giveaway is open internationally and ends on March 1, 2014.  Please use Rafflecopter to enter.

Follow the Tour:

So Many Precious Books Feb 6 Review & Excerpt
Serendipity Feb 7 Review
Most Happy Reader Feb 13 Review
Book Lover’s Journal Feb 14 Review
Every Free Chance Feb 17 Review
Every Free Chance Feb 18 Interview
Dr. Bill’s Book Bazaar Feb 18 Review
I’d Rather Be At the Beach Feb 20 Review
From L.A. to LA Feb 21 Review
Deal Sharing Aunt Feb 24 Interview
From Isi Feb  25 Review
My Devotional Thoughts Feb 26 Review
My Devotional Thoughts Feb 28 Interview
Mina’s Bookshelf Feb 28 Review
Indies Reviews Behind the Scenes Feb 28 Live Blog Talk Radio Excerpt 8 pm cst


Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon By Lyn Hancock

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on June 22, 2008
Posted in AnimalsBiographyBooks Read 2008CanadaLyn Hancock  | 7 Comments

A Zesty Story about a Spicy Animal

Almost 30 years ago Lyn Hancock was asked to be mother to a newborn raccoon. He was three weeks years old and she to bottle-feed and nurture this cute little being.

At the time, she was attending Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC Canada.
She has a tiny “no pets” apartment, but somehow she manages. As Tabasco grows, he goes with Lyn across the country on tour. He makes friends very easily, just about everyone falls in love with him.
When they return home, he is ready to explore his world. Lyn has a hard time letting go, but understands that he is wild and should be free. However, this is easier said then done. This is Lyn’s story of the year she spent as Tabasco’s “mother”.
This book is for 9-12 year olds, but I think any animal lover will enjoy it. I sure did! It was fun to see Tabasco grow up and see what he would get himself into (he got into a lot). Lyn made me fall in love with Tabasco.
If you have also reviewed this book on your blog, please leave a link to it in the comments and I will be glad to add your link to the end of this review.
Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.