Have you ever been a bit anxious about meeting an author or other famous person you admire because you wonder how they can ever measure up to the ideal in your head? When I found out that Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, would be visiting our school to read and chat with our kids, I was over the moon. But could this woman be as charming, gracious and commanding a presence in the flesh as she is in my imagination? Well, in a word, yes.
Look at this photo above. This was taken when they were watching some of the kids perform a very enthusiastic version of "Do-Re-Mi." How many times this woman must have heard this song but her and Emma's reaction was so joyous and nurturing that those children looking down from the stage at them will never forget that moment. Trust me. I heard all about it today. Over and over again. How about this photo of a few of the kids at work?
The reading of select poems from the new book, Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies, was a fantastic hit with the kids (and the adults). This mother-daughter pair is perfectly in-sync with one another. This is not just a reading. This is performance art. And even the youngest sensibilities get that. This is also a beautiful treasury. The array of poems from various authors including our two guests is wonderfully complemented by the watercolor illustrations by James McMullan. The cd in the back was a big hit with the kids too. They liked it before the visit yesterday, and they LOVED it today. Think Christmas. Especially for language-loving families.
So I suppose it is time to wind up the gushing. Did I mention how wonderful they were answering the children's questions? She thinks she prefers writing to acting - her own words versus someone else's. How lovely they were to everyone they encountered? Sigh. It was just magical.
Then this. On the way out, she noticed a cockroach book on the library shelf that is a total gross-out favorite with the boys at my school. She stooped and looked for a minute but did not pick it up. She walked a few steps and then stopped, turned and looked at me and said that cockroaches are one thing of which she is terribly afraid. She shared how she was once making a movie with her husband, and screaming at the sight of one was quite easy for her, perhaps her best acting ever. We all laughed and appreciated the fact that someone else might have said "Blake Edwards" instead of just my husband, "Victor/Victoria" instead of just a movie. Now, of course, I need to see the movie again. And to obtain quite a few more titles from the Julie Andrews Collection for the students at my school. They are demanding them. Loudly. They are a little smitten right now. As we all are. Sigh.Photos by Rebecca Roth courtesy of the Convention Center Community Association, CCCA