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

This week To Kill a Mockingbird won The Great American Read contest.

That makes it a perfect time for young children to learn about the author and how the book came about by reading Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird by Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Erin McGuire.

In spite of the overwhelming success of her novel, Harper Lee (full name Nelle Harper Lee) avoided doing interviews and rarely talked about herself. Regardless, author Bethany Hegedus was able to piece together details of Lee’s early life in Monroeville, Alabama and her later experiences writing the novel in New York City. I don’t want to give away all the details, but her relationship with a certain boy who she meets in her home town and then encounters again later in life is fascinating.

McGuire’s digital illustrations look like paintings. They capture the times and the tone of the book seamlessly.

It is important for children to realize that authors of books are real people because it helps them understand they might be able to become authors, too. Alabama Spitfire not only gives readers a glimpse into an author’s life, but also shows how she used details of her life to write a novel. It is a must read for those who love the novel, aspiring writers, and history buffs alike.


You can listen to what is touted as Lee’s only recorded interview on YouTube (from 1964). She discusses how she did not expect the popularity of the book.

This book was nominated for 2018 Cybils awards in the Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (January 23, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062456709
ISBN-13: 978-0062456700

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.