“Saving American Beach” by Heidi Tyline King

Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch is a true story of MaVynee Betsch, an internationally acclaimed opera singer, environmentalist, and beach lover. When MaVynee was a little girl, she loved to sing and play at the sunny shores of the American Beach in northeastern Florida. It is a stretch of sand that her grandfather had purchases for African Americans to enjoy because at those times black people couldn’t swim wherever they wanted. At those times there was even a rope in the ocean separating black from white.


When MaVynee grew up, she became a famous opera singer and traveled the world, but always longed for her favorite beach. When her mum got sick, MaVynee returned home. Her mum died, and she sat by the sea to think. The American Beach wasn’t what it once was. These were different times and black people could swim with white, so her childhood’s beach was forgotten, littered, and abandoned. MaVynee Betsch started to clean it up and turn it into a beautiful beach again. Builders eyed it as a perfect place for condos and arrived with jackhammers and cranes. MaVynee became an environmentalist, her voice as strong as ever. She turned into a Beach Lady with hair long and thick, she was wearing seashell necklaces and pinned protest buttons to her clothes. She wrote letters to lawmakers and protested, but no one cared. Years passed and others became inspired by the Beach Lady and wrote their own letters until president George W. Bush signed a law protecting American Beach forever. 

Saving American Beach tells an important and inspiring story. The illustrations by Ekua Holmes are a work of art. I think this could be the most beautiful book for kids in the Sea Library. Mixing painting and collage each spread is vibrant and full of life. Perfectly mirroring the unique and powerful personality of MaVynee Betsch. 

Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch is written by Heidi Tyline King and illustrated by Ekua Holmes . It is published on April 13, 2021, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. This book is for kids of 4-8 years, but truly it is a work of art and there is no age limit.

See more photos on my new Instagram account where I curate kids books about the sea! If that sounds like your cup of sea, follow @sealibrary_kids. Each day a new book.

Kids’ books for the Sea Library are bought thanks to sold woven bookmarks. If you want a bookmark, let me know! Let’s help the collection grow.

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