Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch by Heidi Tyline King, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist  MaVynee Betsch: King, Heidi Tyline, Holmes, Ekua: 9781101996294:  Amazon.com: Books
Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist  MaVynee Betsch: King, Heidi Tyline, Holmes, Ekua: 9781101996294:  Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Growing up, MaVynee Betsch loved the beach, but because she was Black, she was restricted by the “Colored Only” signs.  Her grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, Florida’s first African-American millionaire, bought a beach that he called American Beach.  It was open to everyone, and was visited by celebrities like Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington.  MaVynee grew up to become an opera singer, finding success across Europe.  When her mother became sick, MaVynee came home to take care of her and never returned to opera.  After her mother died, MaVynee became an activist, determined to save American Beach from developers.  It took years of protest, but in 2001, the beach was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  MaVynee, or the Beach Lady as she was known, passed away in 2005.  Includes notes from the author and illustrator.  40 pages; grades K-5.

Pros:  In the author’s note, Heidi Tyline King writes that operas often feature an aria, “a profoundly sad and emotional solo where the singer turns sorrow into something beautiful”.  MaVynee Betsch’s story is like that; she seems to have felt profound sadness in many areas of her life, but her single-minded determination ultimately met with success in saving her beloved beach.  Caldecott honoree Ekua Holmes’s beautiful collage illustrations enhance the story with their vibrant colors and patterns.

Cons:  I was sorry there were no photos of the Beach Lady or her beach.

2 thoughts on “Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch by Heidi Tyline King, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

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