top of page
Yellow textured background

News & Reviews

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators



Calkins Creek

(Boyds Mills & Kane)

(pub. 2.2.2021) 40 pages

Author: Claudia Friddell

Illustrator: Elizabeth Baddeley

Character: Grace Banker

Overview: "Led by twenty-five-year-old Grace Banker, thirty-two telephone operators — affectionately called 'Hello Girls' back in the US — became the first female combatants in World War I.

Follow Grace Banker's journey from her busy life as a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. With expert skill, steady nerves, and steadfast loyalty, the Signal Corps operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters.

After faithfully serving her country —undaunted by freezing weather and fires; long hours and little sleep, and nearby shellings and far off explosions — Grace was the first and only woman operator in the Signal Corps to be awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Medal." Tantalizing taste:

"Grace knew she had just what the army's Signal Corps needed -

college education - check

fluency in French - check

telephone operator expertise - check

Along with thousands of female telephone operators known across the country as Hello Girls, Grace answered the call and crossed her fingers.

Full of youthful enthusiasm,

I enlisted.

Women had never been allowed in the army - they weren't even allowed to vote! But that didn't stop Grace. She was used to marching in a man's world."

And something more: Grace Banker's Timeline at the back of the book states that in 1977: "After a nearly sixty-year battle led by Signal Corps operator Merle Egan Anderson, US Congress passes legislation that recognizes Grace and the female Signal Corps soldiers as veterans. This gives them the distinction of being America's first official women soldiers."

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

The True Story of a A Tree

That Inspired the World



Harper (Harper Collins Publishers)

(pub.5.25.2021) 40 pages

Author: Anna Crowley Redding

Illustrator: Yas Imamura

Characters: Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein

and Stephen Hawking

Overview: "A tree may seem like a rather ordinary thing. But hundreds of years ago, a tree was about to embark on an extraordinary journey. And it all started with just a speck of a seed. . . .

It began in the 1600s with a seed that became the tree that grew the apple that fell right before Isaac Newton’s eyes. This seemingly simple event sparked one of the greatest scientific discoveries—Newton’s theory of gravity! A chain reaction of ideas and discoveries followed from the likes of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, who traveled to the place where these scientific journeys began—Isaac’s tree."

Tantalizing taste:

"The question-asking, truth-seeking, math-loving Isaac had grown up in the shadow of this tree. And now, the all-grown-up Isaac leaned against the trunk. His mind was full of questions. And the tree was full of apples.

Until - THWACK!

The THWACK sparked an explosion of questions in Isaac's mind!"

And something more: The back matter explains that: "You can visit the original Gravity Tree outside Isaac Newton's childhood home in England at Woolsthorpe Manor...In 2002, Isaac's Gravity Tree was declared a living part of English Heritage along with forty-nine other trees, in honor of the queen's Golden Jubilee. This declaration affords the tree special protection and extra care."

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch



G.P Putnam's Sons

(pub.4.13.2021) 40 pages

Author: Heidi Tyline King

Illustrator: Ekua Holmes

Character: MaVynee Betsch


"MaVynee loved going to the beach. But in the days of Jim Crow, she couldn't just go to any beach--most of the beaches in Jacksonville were for whites only. Knowing something must be done, her grandfather bought a beach that African American families could enjoy without being reminded they were second class citizens; he called it American Beach. Artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Ray Charles vacationed on its sunny shores. It's here that MaVynee was first inspired to sing, propelling her to later become a widely acclaimed opera singer who routinely performed on an international stage. But her first love would always be American Beach.

After the Civil Rights Act desegregated public places, there was no longer a need for a place like American Beach and it slowly fell into disrepair. MaVynee remembered the importance of American Beach to her family and so many others. So determined to preserve this integral piece of American history, she began her second act as an activist and conservationist, ultimately saving the place that had always felt most like home." Tantalizing taste:

"MaVynee adored her beach.

At water's edge, the sandy shore became a stage.

For each performance,

the wind whispered an endless melody

of gull cries and laughter.

It made her heart sing.

When she grew up,

MaVynee discovered the same music in the opera.

She left her beloved beach to sing stories

around the world."

And something more: Ekua Holmes writes in the back of the book: "Many of the illustrations feature orange butterflies. Orange was MaVynee's favorite color, and she loved all the creatures of the air, especially birds, butterflies, and insects. MaVynee painted her lips and fingernails (which at one time she grew to over a foot long!) in orange as a reminder of the orange rope that was used to separate blacks and whites at beaches during the Jim Crow era... At her memorial service, hundreds of orange butterflies were released to fly over American Beach, honoring MaVAynee's tremendous and colorful spirit."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

bottom of page