Tru and Nelle by G. Neri

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers 

Summary:  When Tru and Nelle first meet, he thinks she is a boy and she thinks he is a girl.  After exchanging a few rounds of insults, the two become fast friends.  Both live in Monroeville, Alabama, a sleepy little town in the throes of the Great Depression, but their combined imaginations create a force to be reckoned with.  They love to read, and Sherlock Holmes becomes a favorite.  Before long, Tru is Sherlock and Nelle is Watson, and they’re on the prowl for a real mystery.  A break-in at the local drugstore provides one, but it ends in disaster, and the two decide it’s safer to write their stories than to act them out in real life.  Eventually, Tru’s socialite mother remarries and sends for him to live in New York City, but first he throws a blow-out farewell party that results in a confrontation with the local Ku Klux Klan.  The writing, the friendship, the wild party…all foreshadow what would happen to these two children who grew up to become Truman Capote and (Nelle) Harper Lee. 336 pages; grades 3-5.

Pros:  Fans of To Kill a Mockingbird will enjoy learning more about the real-life Scout and Dill.  The writing beautifully captures the Depression-era South.  Modeled on Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the book ends with a few short stories which are flesh out the longer novel.

Cons:  Readers in the targeted age range aren’t likely to be familiar with Harper Lee or Truman Capote, making this a much less appealing choice for the younger crowd.

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