Monday, February 15, 2021

The Clothesline Code: Celebrating Valentine's Day and Black History Month

I can't think of a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day (well, let's make it a week, shall we?) and Black History Month (let's make that year 'round, shall we?) than to introduce you to award-winning author, Janet Halfmann's, newest book, The Clothesline Code, released February 1.

From the back cover: "Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker didn’t have to risk their lives to spy for the Union army. The couple had already risked everything to escape slavery themselves."

This is a true story of a loving black couple, Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker, who found a unique and daring way to help the Union during the Civil War. Dabney was assigned to an intelligence unit in the Union Army. Lucy Ann was a camp laundress. As formerly enslaved people, neither had been allowed to learn to read or write. How could they sneak behind enemy lines and set up a system for communicating what the Confederates were up to? The clothesline code was born. 

Lucy Ann was the one who would go into enemy territory, learn Confederate secrets, and send them to Dabney, who would look at the clothesline and decode the message. Should they be found out, both of their lives were in danger. Suspense builds as the Walkers send messages back and forth. Readers feel Dabney's distress on days when messages don't come. Was Lucy Ann ok? Would their plan succeed?

The Walkers' determination to help defeat slavery demonstrates the power we all have in using everyday items, courage, and caring to change the world.

Halfmann's vivid writing and Trisha Mason's emotive illustrations bring these little-known heroes to life, engaging youth and adults. Halfmann says that she "strives to make her books come alive for young readers and listeners," and this book proves that she does. 

Find out more about Halfmann and her books here. Find out more about Mason and her art here.

I like Halfmann's writing so much that I have written about her work before here and here.

Halfmann proudly displays The Clothesline Code.

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