When I was a little girl, a family friend brought her daughter and me to a book launch. The event was located in the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Ca. I had been there before, but not after hours. The author who was reading her debut children’s book was Alice Walker. Alice Walker’s claim to fame is her classic The Color Purple.
At this time in my life, I had no idea who she was. All I knew was that the book she read, To Hell with Dying, was the most amazing book I had ever seen! The colors were so vivid, the story so engaging. As she read the book, I tumbled into a world of a country girl about my age and her beloved musician friend Mr. Sweet.
After she read the story, the family who I had come there with, purchased two books, one for me and one for their daughter. As I stood in line for her to sign it, I had decided that this was one of the best days of my life. As we approached her, she looked at us with a smile and asked if we enjoyed the book. I sheepishly answered, “Yes.”
From then on, that day was forever etched into my memory. As I grew older and living almost a nomadic life, the book was lost. Hurt, I vowed to one day as an adult, purchase another copy.
Around the age of 12, I embarked on the book, The Color Purple. This piece of work also dazzled my imagination as I giggled at the explicit parts. I realized that the magnificent movie was no comparison to the book.
In college, one of my favorite professors also enjoyed her writings and introduced the class to many of her essays. I took the opportunity to read as much of her work as I could. This was the time I discovered her as a person. I never would have known she could only see out of one eye. I had never heard of the term “Womanist” before.
Sitting in the center of the front row this past week, smelling the male actor’s cologne, I watched the musical, The Color Purple. As the characters came to life, I became that little girl again. Amazed at the beautiful colors, the faces full of expression, the melodic sounds; I flashed back to peeling the pages of the tattered purple book.
I believe the movie brought the book to life, while the musical, was extremely entertaining. Instead of watching pure drama, the musical enticed the senses with its singing and dancing and comedy.
As I walked back, in the winter cold, to the car with my little girl, (who is about the age I was when I was at the book reading), I realized that I was headed for a complete circle, shaded purple!
Read, Children’s Books; Remembering Mr. SweetBy ALICE WALKER, an essay posted on the New York Times, (1988)