‘Code Breaker, Spy Hunter’ encourages young scientists

Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars, written by Laurie Wallmark

By reading a biography in the form of an advanced picture book, this week young readers are learning the story of Elizebeth Friedman, an American cryptanalyst who worked with the FBI to decipher enemy spy codes during World War I and World War II.

At 12:15 p.m. today on the porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall, young readers and anyone interested in children’s literature are welcome to gather for a discussion based around this week’s CLSC Young Reader book Code Breaker, Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World Wars, written by Laurie Wallmark with illustrations by Brooke Smart.

Friedman’s work with the FBI was used as evidence to convict 33 Nazi spies. The book explores Friedman’s pioneering work in codebreaking in the early- to mid-20th century. The field was so new then that code breakers like Friedman had to become their own teachers as ciphers became more and more complex.

At the end of the book, there are some fun interactive code-breaking activities, and a timeline of Friedman’s life for readers to learn more.

Code Breaker really speaks to the legacy and history of coding, and how it developed with people like Elizebeth Friedman,” said Manager of Literary Arts Stephine Hunt. 

The book is intended for ages 6 and up and is an advanced picture book that can be enjoyed by a broad spectrum of readers.

“It fits between early reader and middle grade, it is more dynamic, there’s a lot more prose to it than a general picture book … It’s more elaborate” said Hunt. 

Hunt and Karen Schiavone, who coordinated the CLSC Young Readers program before taking her current position as associate general counsel for the Institution, will facilitate the discussion for Code Breaker, Spy Hunter, bringing up themes and topics present in the book, so people who haven’t read it can also participate in the conversation — without spoilers. 

“It’s important to see that there have been women behind these (scientific) discoveries,” said Hunt. “It will continue to show young girls that women can and should be a part of this and have been a part of this for a long time.”

This week’s early reader book, Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty, is a picture book that encourages kids to get involved in science, said Hunt. The name of the main character, Ada Marie Twist is based on Nobel-winning scientist Marie Curie, and Ada Lovelace, who is considered to be the first computer programmer. Ada Twist, Scientist will be weaved into the discussion on the porch today if time allows.  

Immediately following the discussion a Play CHQ event will be hosted on the Alumni Hall Lawn if weather allows, where kids of any age can engage in activities and games related to the book. 

Tags : Brooke SmartCLSCCode Breaker Spy Hunter: How Elizebeth Friedman Changed the Course of Two World WarsElizebeth FriedmanFBILaurie Wallmarkliterary artsLiterary Arts CenterWorld War II

The author Sabine Obermoller