Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Texas Library Association Conference

Today was day one of the Texas Library Conference here in Houston, Texas. Julie Andrews Edwards opened the conference. Although she acknowledged that she is a "celebrity author," she proudly pointed out that she started writing children's books over 35 years ago. She loves working with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton on The Julie Andrews Collection imprint for HarperCollins.

A film overview of her career introduced her. It included film of Julie as a very young girl, performing and singing and her early broadway roles in The Boyfriend, My Fair Lady and Camelot. Scenes from her movies and her shows with Carol Burnett followed. (They did not include her role as Mia's grandmother in The Princess Diaries which was a pity. The scene were she dances with Hector Elizondo would have been perfect.)

She said that as a girl, she was traveling and performing so much that her education was limited until her parents hired a tutor. She always loved writing stories so the teacher would allow her to write AFTER she finished with her math and history and science. Words are important to Julie Andrews Edwards. The tag line for her imprint is "Words Wisdom Wonder." She pointed out that as a singer, the most beautiful melody needs the words to sell the song. She discovered the word "whangdoodle" in a dictionary and after reading the definition decided The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles would be the title for her second book.

Her new book, The Great American Mousical, was inspired by a mouse infested theater on Broadway.

As she discussed the importance of reading, she expressed concern that broadcast media today is only showing "manufactured slices of life" in so-called reality television shows. As much as she has loved performing in movies, it is still "filmed storytelling" and it can never replace reading which requires the active participation of the reader and the engagement of the imagination.

She was lovely and eloquent. (Funny to hear she wrote her first book, Mandy, as a forfeit for her excessive swearing.)
I grew up enjoying her movies so it was a treat to see her in person.



PJ Librarian said...

How great to have been able to hear her speak in person. Thanks for sharing her words from the conference. She is definitely one of the very few "celebrity" writers that I have enjoyed especially The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. I originally picked it up to give as a gift and actually kept it. Your right also about the dance scene as Mia's bad they left it out.

Kelly said...

How wonderful, Camille! "The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles" is one of my favorite children's books.

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous! I saw her on the Today Show this morning, but that's not really the same thing.