When we ordered our tickets, we had both wondered why it would be necessary to take this appearance off-site—could Julie Andrews really draw such a big crowd these days? Really? Um, apparently so. I would guess there were at least 400 people packed into the auditorium, many of them children, all enthusiastic. The children were there because of her books and The Princess Diaries; the adults were there because of The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Proof that some things—like Julie Andrews—last and last and last.
They showed a montage film for the first 20 minutes, with clips from everything, including some hilarious bits from old TV specials with Carol Burnett. She entered to a standing ovation and spoke for about fifteen minutes about the importance of words and books, etc., everything an author is going to say, and particularly everything a children's book author is going to say to children: read, read, read. There are whole worlds in there, and they are not to be found in your television sets or your Internets or your Gameboys (okay, I added that last part). But these children seemed pretty convinced of that already.
For the last half hour or so, she answered audience questions, of which there were no shortage. The little boy sitting in front of us, who must have been about eight or nine, waved his hand in the air desperately for most of it. Every couple of minutes he'd switch arms and then his energy would flag and his shoulders would kind of slump over (Kim called it "school arm"), but then he'd shoot up straight again, determined to be seen. He was never called on, which was unfortunate because I really wanted to know what he wanted to know so badly. These kids had absolutely no fear of microphones, I'll tell you that much. They were bold and prepared.
The best question came from a girl who couldn't have been older than three. Her mother held her up to the microphone and she asked, very seriously, "Why is Julie Andrews so famous?" To which Julie Andrews—lovely, serene, composed, and amused—replied, "Beats me!"