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Julie Andrews And Daughter Host New Kids Podcast 'Julie's Library'


If you are anything like me, this pandemic may have sent you back seeking solace in the films from your childhood, "Mary Poppins," "The Sound Of Music." If so, this voice will be familiar and very, very comforting.


JULIE ANDREWS: Hello. I'm Julie Andrews, and I'm so glad you're here. In my mind, the most wonderful place to be is one where books are nearby.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's from Julie's Library, a new podcast hosted by actress and writer Dame Julie Andrews and her daughter, writer and producer Emma Walton Hamilton. And as you might expect, it is delightful.



ANDREWS: Oh, hello, Emma. Listeners, she and I have written lots of books together.

HAMILTON: We have - we make a very good team.

ANDREWS: Well, I think we do. Today...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Every episode features a children's book chosen by the mother-daughter team, a special guest and kids. There are two episodes out now. New ones are every Wednesday, and Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton join me now to talk about it. Hello.



GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is a pleasure to have you here. We have been watching you, Dame Julie, with my 7-year-old daughter during this lockdown as Maria in "Mary Poppins," and you have a special place in the heart of kids and grown-ups, something that sort of messages that everything is going to be OK. And listening to this podcast brought us a great deal of joy.

ANDREWS: Well, that is lovely because that's the whole point, if possible - is to bring some fun to children in this very difficult time while the dreaded virus is among us, the beastly virus. We'd been planning this podcast for quite a while, but it was suddenly decided that we would bring it forward and introduce it a little sooner rather than later because of needing things for families to do together. And so it's been a mad scramble, hasn't it, Emma?

HAMILTON: Yes, it has, but it's very wonderful.

ANDREWS: Yeah. And a very pleasant one. And it's fun to do and fun to select the stories. And it's great fun to read them, too.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to play a clip from the first episode where you're talking about "Marilyn's Monster" by Michelle Knudsen, about a little girl who is the last of her friends to find her monster and everyone has advice for her but she has to do it her own way.


ANDREWS: It just goes to show you there's no one right way to do something. All Marilyn's friends had to do was wait and their monsters found them.

HAMILTON: But that didn't work for Marilyn. She had to be creative and try something different.

ANDREWS: Exactly. She trusted her instincts, and they led her to the right place.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What do you hope kids take away from the books you're choosing?

HAMILTON: First and foremost, the joy of reading and storytelling, of course. But also the power of a good story - as what we often say mirrors, windows and doors, with which kids can learn about themselves and the world around them. And we also hope that it just brings families together as an opportunity for shared listening pleasure.

ANDREWS: Also, we really dwell on the importance of words and what they mean. It's all, of course, to do ultimately with reading - but how important the words are and learning more words. And we ask the children to write in with their favorites and what makes them feel good in a word or just things to make them think about the wonder.

HAMILTON: As you could tell from the excerpt that - we're not just reading the books. We are actually talking about them afterwards and talking about the social, emotional issues and themes of the books and offering activities and conversations and games and so forth to support and enrich the reading or listening experience.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you choose the books? How are you deciding which books to feature?

HAMILTON: We take great care in choosing them, and we were looking primarily for books with heart. I would say if there was one recurring theme, some are funny. Some are serious. Some are poignant. Some are charming.

ANDREWS: Some that really spur questions and supply answers, maybe, or give you hope or courage, especially at this particular time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Did you have a favorite book to read together when Emma was growing up?

ANDREWS: I think we had many, but I had a book that was one of my favorites when I was a child that I read with delight to my own children as they grew up. And it's an English book, which is written by an English author with the initials B.B. And it's just called "The Little Grey Men," about the last four gnomes left in England. And they go on a really phenomenal adventure. It's a nature study book. And for me, that was tremendously attractive because I love everything to do with nature.

But then you had a book, too, Emma, that you loved growing up.

HAMILTON: I did. I loved the "The Phantom Tollbooth," which is a middle-grade novel by Norton Juster. And I absolutely - that was my go-to book on rainy days and, I think, maybe one of the reasons why I fell in love with words because there's a whole section in that book where the hero, the little boy who has driven his toy car through the phantom tollbooth goes to a fantasy town called dictionopolis, where they sell words in the marketplace. And words have flavors and textures and colors and aromas. And that just so captured my imagination as a child.

ANDREWS: In terms of what we read and what I read to my own kids, anything at bedtime that made for togetherness and pleasure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm just curious how you two are connecting at this time. You live close to each other, but, obviously, there are limitations because of the pandemic. What's it been like for you?

ANDREWS: Yes, normally we work side by side, but because of the pandemic, we're mostly on our computers.

HAMILTON: We do live five minutes away from each other. But because my husband and I are still out having to get groceries and supplies and things like that...

ANDREWS: And I'm being very spoiled by them.

HAMILTON: We're trying to really minimize the risk. If the weather is nice over the weekend, what we've been doing since spring arrived is we've been having lunch on her patio. We'll bring over some...

ANDREWS: And we sit at least 6 feet apart but with big air hugs and lots of chat and pleasure in the garden, really, and enjoying the spring.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Is that what's getting you through?

ANDREWS: Yes. Partially, yes.

HAMILTON: That and having creative work to do, I think.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I have a co-worker, as many of us do now, and it is my daughter. And I promised her to be able to ask you a question because she is such an enormous fan. So I'm going to put her on right now. Say hi.

CASSIE: Hi, my name's Cassie (ph).


CASSIE: I'm a big fan, and can you maybe sing a song?

ANDREWS: I see. What's your favorite song?

CASSIE: My favorite song is "What Makes You Happy (ph)."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, the one about my favorite things.

ANDREWS: My favorite things, like, (singing) raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. That one?


GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've got it. Yeah. (Singing) Bright copper kettles and warm wool mittens. Can you sing it?

CASSIE: I try.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) A little bit.

CASSIE: (Singing) But these are a few of my favorite things.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Singing) But these are a few of my favorite things.



ANDREWS: (Singing) Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes. Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton - their new podcast is Julie's Library.

Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. That was, I think, the best Mother's Day gift I could have gotten.

ANDREWS: Thank you.

HAMILTON: Thank you for having us.


ANDREWS: (Singing) I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro
Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.