Summary: This biography is an awakening for Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch. Growing up as a girl who loved the beach the steady waves and soft skies provided her with an abundance of comfort. However, the period of the pre-civil rights movement enabled segregation to keep her from sulking in the sun from just any beach. MaVynee enjoyed spending the joyous moments of watching the harmonious blends of blue and green that she often viewed with her grandfather. He was exhausted and frustrated by the discrimination. Furthermore, he was saddened by its effects on his granddaughter. Surprisingly, one day her grandfather decided that enough had been endured and purchased a beach. That beach became known as “American Beach”. Although, growing up on the beach was a priceless venture with countless memories, MaVynee grew up and pursued her career in opera which removed her from the paradise that soothed her during her childhood. In a constant longing she never stopped dreaming of the beautiful place that was considered a part of “home”. Upon return, what will she discover? How will she react? Will there be challenges? Will she be heard? What will be the end results?
Strengths: This book is beautifully illustrated. King tells the story but the illustrations by Holmes bring this book to life.
Weaknesses: This book would have benefited from a real-life photo of MaVynee in the note section or on the very last page. In biographies, students like to make connections to the real world and photos provide that sense of reality.
Thoughts: This story travels down the steep road that plagued so many. This is still a reality of so many in the land of the free. I can think of another local beach in the state of Maryland where this story parallels the deeply rooted history of “black owned” beaches that barely exists. This story is one that will stick out in the minds of students as they reflect on the history while visiting local and national bodies of water. Kudos to the author and illustrator for this collaborative effort.