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News & Reviews

How Engineer Jerry Lawson Revolutionized

Video Games Forever



Simon and Schuster

(Paula Wiseman Books)

(pub.8.29.2023) 40 pages

Author: Don Tate

Illustrator: Cherise Harris

Character: Jerry Lawson


" Before Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch, there was a tinkerer named Jerry Lawson. As a boy, Jerry loved playing with springs, sprockets, and gadget-y things. When he grew up, Jerry became an engineer—a professional tinkerer—and in the 1970s, he turned his technical know-how to video games.

Back then, if players wanted a new video game, they had to buy an entire new console, making gaming very expensive. Jerry was determined to fix this problem, and despite roadblocks along the way and having to repeat a level or two, it was never game over for his mission. Eventually, he leveled up and built a brand-new kind of video game console: one that allowed players to switch out cartridges! He also founded Video Soft, Inc., the first African American–owned video game company in the country."

Tantalizing taste:

" After a few more calculations and measurements, he whipped out a pair of scissors and ... clip! He shortened the cord of the joystick controller by two inches. This game-changing idea reduced the noise and fixed the problem!


And something more: I'm always interested in what inspired authors of picture book biographies to choose their subject. Don Tate, in the Author's Note, explains that "One day a librarian I follow on Twitter, Elizabeth Bird, suggested someone ought to write about Jerry Lawson. I started researching that same day. I was intrigued with the subject because, as a kid, I was both an ardent tinkerer myself and a player of early video games. I'd never heard of Jerry Lawson."

Carrie Chapman Catt's Voice for the Voice



Union Square Kids

(pub.7.11.2023) 48 pages

Author: Jasmine A. Stirling

Illustrator: Udayana Lugo

Character: Carrie Chapman Catt


" As a child, Carrie Chapman Catt asked a lot of questions: How many stars are in the sky? Do germs have personalities? And why can’t Mama vote?

Catt’s curiosity led her to college, to a career in journalism, and finally to becoming the president of The National American Woman Suffrage Association. Catt knew the movement needed a change—and she set to work mobilizing women (and men) across the nation to dare to question a woman’s right to vote.

On August 18, 1920, Catt pinned a yellow rose to her dress and waited while lawmakers in Tennessee cast their deciding votes to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. After a seventy-year campaign, had women finally won the right to vote? "

Tantalizing taste:

"Happy tears wet suffs' faces.

Yellow rose petals fluttered through the air.

Carrie's heart



beat with relief and exhaustion and gratitude.

Silently, she let the news sink into her bones."

And something more: I'm always intrigued by the research supporting a picture book biography. Jasmine A. Stirling in the Author's Note explains that "I spent several years researching Carrie's life, pouring over her letters at the Library of Congress, getting photos of her room from the historian at the Hermitage Hotel, consulting queer history, and tracking down and collaborating with a descendent of Harry T. Burn [the lawmaker who received a letter from his mother, a follower of Carie Chapman, and changed his vote, the decisive vote, to YES]."



Godwin Books

(Henry Holt/Macmillan)

(pub.11.22.2022) 40 pages

Ages 4-8

Author: Caroline L. Perry

Illustrator: Lydia Corry

Character: Queen Elizabeth & her Corgis


" Even a monarch needs a best friend and Queen Elizabeth II found one in a corgi pup she named Susan. From princesshood to queendom the pair forged an unbreakable bond, with Susan even participating in Elizabeth’s wedding day and joining her on honeymoon with Prince Philip. Over the course of her remarkable seventy-year reign the Queen had more than thirty corgi companions, and almost all were direct descendants of her cherished Susan."

Tantalizing taste:

World War II "was still raging when Elizabeth turned eighteen...

Papa told her she could choose any gift her heart desired...

Elizabeth asked for only one thing.

'I want a puppy of my own!' she declared.

The princess got her wish: a corgi pup she named Susan.

Elizabeth's heart swelled when she cuddled the tiny dog.

It wasn't easy for a future queen to make friends.

At last, she had her very own constant companion."

And something more: The Back Matter includes a Family Tree of Queen Elizabeth and a Family Tree of Susan with a note that "Willow, the Queen's last corgi descended from Susan, died in 2018. In 2021, Elizabeth was gifted two new corgi puppies." Her son, Prince Andrew, gave her these two puppies.

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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