World War II soldier Bill Wynne met Smoky while serving in New Guinea, where the dog, who was smaller than Wynne’s army boot, was found trying to scratch her way out of a foxhole. After he adopted her, she served as the squadron mascot and is credited as being the first therapy dog for the emotional support she provided the soldiers. When they weren’t fighting, Bill taught Smoky hundreds of tricks to entertain the troops.
Dolores Huerta Stands Strong follows Huerta’s life from the mining communities of the Southwest where her father toiled, to the vineyards and fields of California, to the present day. As she advocated for farmworkers, Mexican American immigrants, women, and LGBTQ population rights, Dolores earned the nation’s highest honors and found her voice.
Long before she wrote The House of Dies Drear, M. C. Higgins, the Great, and many other children’s classics, Virginia Hamilton grew up among her extended family near Yellow Springs, Ohio, where her grandfather had been brought as a baby through the Underground Railroad. The family stories she heard as a child fueled her imagination, and the freedom to roam the farms and woods nearby trained her to be a great observer.
In 1955, sixty-seven-year-old Emma “Grandma” Gatewood became the first woman to solo hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one through hike. Michelle Houts and Erica Magnus bring us the first children’s book about her feat and the unexpected challenges she encountered on the journey she initially called a “lark.”
In the third installment of our series Biographies for Young Readers, Nancy Roe Pimm gives us the life of Jerrie Mock, who in 1964 became the first woman to fly solo around the world. Mock, born in Newark, Ohio, received little attention for her feat, despite accomplishing what her childhood heroine Amelia Earhart died trying. Meticulously researched, Mock’s story as presented by Pimm is engaging, accessible, and packed with inspiration for middle-grade readers aspiring to adventure.
Growing up in Ladora, Iowa, Mildred “Millie” Benson had ample time to develop her imagination, sense of adventure, and independence. Millie left her small hometown to attend the University of Iowa, where she became the first person to earn a master’s degree from the school of journalism. While still a graduate student, Millie began writing for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which published the phenomenally popular Hardy Boys series, among many others.
Dorothy Mary Kamenshek was born to immigrant parents in Norwood, Ohio. As a young girl, she played pickup games of sandlot baseball with neighborhood children; no one, however, would have suspected that at the age of seventeen she would become a star athlete at the national level. The outbreak of World War II and the ensuing draft of able-bodied young men severely depleted the ranks of professional baseball players.