Harper Lee & Truman Capote,
the Middle Grade Novel

How is this for the plot of a book: Two kids grow up in the deep South 80 some years ago, making up stories, acting them out in the backyard. Fast forward a few decades and one of them writes what might be the most beloved debut novel of several generations and the other all but invents a new kind of book, one that still rivets readers to this day.

In a nutshell that is the real-life story of Harper Lee and Truman Capote, who were childhood neighbors and friends, continuing their friendship into adulthood until a dispute over the attribution for In Cold Blood drove them apart.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.39.04 AMTheir youthful friendship is the subject of a forthcoming novel for middle-grade readers, Tru & Nelle (HMH; Mar. 1, 2016; ISBN 9780544699601) by Caldecott Honor winner Greg Neri (Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty), following the pair on adventures through their small Southern town. It’s the topic of a detailed story in the NYT Books section and is also described on Neri’s own site, with historic photos of his subjects.

Neri’s book comes on the heels of new publications by both authors. Of course Go Set a Watchman is has been the subject of much attention, overshadowing the news that new Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.35.58 AMCapote stories have been found as well, several of them in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library.

The Capote stories were written when he was a teenager and a young man. Most have never been published. That will be corrected in October with the release of The Early Stories of Truman Capote (Random House; Random House Audio; Oct. 27; ISBN 9780812998221).

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