Miss Maudie Atkinson is a long-time neighbor of the Finches. The children thought of her as a neighbor and,
"Until Jem and Dill excluded me from their plans, she was only another lady in the neighborhood but a relatively benign presence." (pg 42)
However, that summer the children developed a relationship with Miss Maudie, especially Scout. They would go over to her house for cake and would sit on her front porch and talk with her. Scout admits,
"Jem and I had considerable faith in Miss Maudie. She had never told on us, had never played cat-and-mouse with us, she was not at all interested in our private lives. She was our friend." (pg 45)
Scout consults her when she and Jem can't find anything admirable about Atticus. They think he is old and feeble because he was almost fifty. Miss Maudie tells them that he is a good lawyer, that he is the best checker-player in the town, and that he plays the Jew's Harp. That embarrasses the children even more. However, when Atticus shoots the mad dog, and they find out that he is the best shot in town, Miss Maudie tells them,
"Forgot to tell you the other day that besides playing the Jew's harp, Atticus Finch was the deadliest shot in Maycomb County in his time." (pg 98)
She has a tremendous respect for Atticus and the children love her for that. She opens their eyes to his talents and gifts and enhances their special relationship with their father.