Nothing Fancy by Kerry Madden
Kerry Madden-Lunsford

Illustratred by
Lucy Madden-Lunsford
Mockingbird Publishing, 2013

About the Book

Nothing Fancy about Kathryn & Charlie is the true story of friendship between unlikely characters. Renowned Alabama journalist, author, and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham and self-taught folk artist and Tin Man Charlie Lucas found common ground in tomato sandwiches, treasure hunting, and comb playing on the lawn of the Selma library. Their special bond has been beautifully captured in this tribute by author Kerry Madden-Lunsford and her artist daughter Lucy. In honor of Kathryn and Charlie, proceeds from Nothing Fancy will be donated to Kathryn's beloved Selma-Dallas County Public Library.

Author Kerry Madden-Lunsford and
illustrator Lucy Madden Lunsford

Rural Alabama Library Tour
Kerry Madden-Lunsford

In the summer of 2013 with the help of a Creative Grant from UAB, I traveled with my daughters (and dog) to rural Alabama libraries across the state to offer art and writing workshops for children. I had just published my first storybook for young readers, Nothing Fancy About Kathryn and Charlie, (Mockingbird Publishers) illustrated by my daughter, Lucy Madden-Lunsford. We took Lucy’s original art from the book to share with it to the young artists, and together we read them the story of the friendship between storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham and folk artist, Charlie Lucas of Selma, Alabama. In addition to Lucy’s art and our combined storytelling, we also brought our own found objects – buttons, strings, twine, material, markers, glue, shells, sticks, paper bags, popsicle sticks, art paper – and we encouraged the kids to make their own art. Much the way Charlie Lucas makes art out of objects found in dumpsters, trashcans, and fields, we suggested to the children that they look around at everyday objects and see the potential of making art.

From our workshops, the children made trees out of all the found objects. Some made cherry, plum apple trees with red, purple, and green buttons while others made coconut trees with little brown buttons and strips of material. Some kids built popsicle-stick tree-houses in the branches, while others made tire swings out of twine and rubber bands. We talked of how trees carry stories, and we asked them to share their stories and look for art and stories in unexpected places just like Kathryn and Charlie did. Other kids drew their hearts, and some of even drew hearts in trees. We hung some of the children’s in the libraries we visited.

The most challenging workshop was in Monroeville, Alabama when 100 kids showed up to the workshop. The librarian, parents, and volunteers jumped in to help us get the art supplies to each kid, which meant two buttons per kids instead of a seemingly endless supply. The librarian, Bunny Hines, declared it “a goat-roping,” and children’s author, Eve Bunting, told me that should be my next storybook. It was a magical time traveling around Alabama with my girls meeting young artists and librarians all over the state from Trussville to Birmingham to Scottsboro to Greensboro in Hale County to Selma to Gadsden to Choctaw County to Fairhope to Monroeville to Dothan ending in the summer in Alabaster.

Here are links to the trip and how the story came back to be written. I am very grateful to Dr. Rebecca Bach and to UAB for the opportunity to explore storytelling and art with young artists across the state.

Mockingbird - Cause Publishing - Birmingham

University of Alabama - College of Arts & Sciences

University of Alabame - News Blog

(Blog with pictures)

Alabama Writers’ Forum

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