Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 18, 2021


Laurie Wallmark has a new non-fiction picture book, CODE BREAKER, SPY HUNTER: HOW ELIZABETH FRIEDMAN CHANGED THE COURSE OF TWO WORLD WARS, illustrated by Brooke Smart and published by Abrams Kids on March 2nd. Laurie has agreed to send a copy with one lucky winner.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Laurie and Brooke.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Decode the story of Elizebeth Friedman, the cryptologist who took down gangsters and Nazi spies

In this picture book biography, young readers will learn all about Elizebeth Friedman (1892 – 1980), a brilliant American code breaker who smashed Nazi spy rings, took down gangsters, and created the CIA’s first cryptology unit. Her story came to light when her secret papers were finally declassified in 2015. From thwarting notorious rumrunners with only paper and pencil to counter-spying into the minds and activities of Nazis, Elizebeth held a pivotal role in the early days of US cryptology. No code was too challenging for her to crack, and Elizebeth’s work undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. Extensive back matter includes explanations of codes and ciphers, further information on cryptology, a bibliography, a timeline of Elizebeth’s life, plus secret messages for young readers to decode.


As many of you know, I write picture book biographies about (dead) #WomenInSTEM. Like is the case for many of the unsung woman scientists and mathematicians, I had never heard Elizebeth Smith Friedman’s story. That is until I read the book, The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies, by Jason Fagone. After reading it, I knew I had to learn more about this amazing woman. In addition to reading other books, I was able to access her archived papers at the Marshall Foundation in Lexington VA. One of their librarians, Melissa Davis, was able to help me with my research. (Thank you librarians everywhere!)

Of course, writing (and revising!) the book isn’t the end of the process. You have to find an editor and publisher who’d like to publish your book. I was lucky in that even though my amazing editor, Meredith Mundy had switched publishing houses, I was able to follow her to Abrams Kids. But, they had too many picture book biographies in their pipeline, so I had to wait a few years before it was published. I hope everyone thinks it was worth the wait.


My latest #WomenInSTEM picture book biography, CODE BREAKER, SPY HUNTER: HOW ELIZABETH FRIEDMAN CHANGED THE COURSE OF TWO WORLD WARS (Abrams, 2021) is available for pre-order now. came out in March 2020. My previous titles were NUMBERS IN MOTION: SOPHIE KOWALEVSKI, QUEEN OF MATHEMATICIAN (Creston Books), HEDY LAMARR’S DOUBLE LIFE (Sterling Children’s Books, 2019), GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), and ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Creston Books, 2015).

My books have earned multiple starred trade reviews, been chosen as Junior Library Guild Selections, and received awards such as Outstanding Science Trade Book, Cook Prize Honor, AAAS/Subaru Prize Longlist, and Parents’ Choice Gold Medal.

I speak at many educator conferences such as NCTE, NSTA, TLA, ISTE, NJASL and was a keynote speaker for a NJ SCBWI annual conference. I enjoy doing school visits and sharing my love of reading and STEM with children.

I have an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and am co-chair of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. I live in Ringoes NJ with my husband. My two grown daughters (software engineers!) live in the Boston area.

I am represented by Liza Fleissig and Ginger Harris-Dontzin of the Liza Royce Agency. You can find me online at and @lauriewallmark.


Hi! My name is Brooke.

I started my artistic career as a fine artist, painting the beautiful people around me, but my style and life has changed so much since then.

I’m an illustrator, and I love being an illustrator. I love telling stories from my head, or stories from other people’s heads, or stories from history. I’ve always loved to read and my books are some of my greatest treasures. The opportunity has come to begin illustrating my own books and I couldn’t be happier. I love working with traditional media, especially with watercolor, gouache, and on occasion, acrylic paint. My work appears in children’s magazines, children’s books, but also on cards and other learning materials.

I am divorced, but recently remarried. I’m so lucky to have my husband. He is kind, selfless, and shares my love for creating. He’s a part of much of my work and I’m grateful for his support. We have three children between the two of us and are living the sleepless, happy, busy, busy dream right now. I’ve truly stumbled into heaven with this new family of ours.

Some of my clients include Random House Kids, Penguin Workshop, Viking, Greystone Kids, Little Tiger UK, Little Brown UK, Peachtree Publishing, The New York Times, Bravery Magazine, Illustoria Magazine, Gathre, Wildbird, and Better Days 2020.

For inquiries regarding book illustration, please contact Teresa Kietlinski at Bookmark Literary at For all other inquiries, or commissions, please contact Brooke at

Laurie thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. You always come up with such interesting strong, smart women in history. I am sure kids will love reading about breaking secret codes and read about how her work helped smashed Nazi spy rings. I know I want to read it. Brooke did a great job with the illustrations. They really helped you tell the story. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. how fascinating


  2. sounds fascinating! Congrats!


  3. Congrats, Laurie and Brooke! I’m excited to read this book. (I’m also subscribed to the emails.)


  4. Love the look and the idea of this book. I think it could easily cross gender lines as well and appeal to both girls and boys who are interested in military stories. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted a link to this post:, and shared an image on Pinterest as well:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day everyone!


  5. I am really looking forward to this book. The combination of Laurie Wallmark and Brook Smart looks like a hit. Thanks for bringing Elizabeth Friedman’s story to light.


  6. Congratulations Laurie and Brooke! Laurie, I cannot wait to add this to your books that I already have!! And to when I can finally come and get it signed in person!! Woohoo!!


  7. I love spy stories! Looking forward to this one, Laurie! Congratulations!


  8. I would love to win this! Not sure if Canadians are eligible to enter but I will try anyway!


  9. This book sounds amazing! What a wonderful contribution Elizabeth made! Thanks for sharing and congratulations, Laurie!

    I will tweet this. I follow by email. 🙂


  10. I have all of Laurie’s books on my shelf, and can’t wait to add this one! I follow your blog. I’ll tweet, too!


  11. I shared on FB, Twitter, and PInterest. thanks


  12. This is the perfect book for all of my granddaughters! Thanks for highlighting an interesting woman who everyone should know about. I’m looking forward to reading this! I receive your blog daily.


  13. I watched a PBS special about Elizabeth and it was fascinating! Congratulations, Laurie. All of your PB bios are so well done! I’m looking forward to reading this one, too!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter and I get your blog daily.


  14. I’ve been intrigued by WWII codebreakers ever since hearing that some of them were recruited because they were great at crossword puzzles. Elizebeth Friedman sounds fascinating. (Kathy, I subscribe to this blog.)


  15. I love Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life, and have recommended it many times over. I can’t wait to read this one! Elizebeth Friedman is such a fascinating figure!


  16. What an intriguing story. Congrats, Lauri and Brooke!


  17. This book sounds absolutely fascinating–congrats, Laurie! And I’d also like to know the story behind your T-shirt:-) Kathy, I also subscribe to your emails.


  18. Looks amazing!


  19. This looks like a super book. I follow your blog by email.


  20. This book looks amazing!


  21. Congratulations! This one looks amazing.


  22. Congratulations Laurie and Brooke. Can’t wait to read this one.


  23. Meredith Mundy is my editor too! Love working with her. Congratulations on your new book!


  24. Incredible! I cannot wait to read and share this story.


  25. Love Laurie’s books; she finds the most interesting women! I’m subscribed and get your blog posts in my inbox so thanks for letting me know about this latest one. Well done, Laurie!


  26. This sounds like an amazing story.


  27. Such a fan of Laurie and her books. And to think, I knew here when… it was the very first NJ SCBWI Retreat in Princeton 🙂 Best of luck to you Laurie! XO


  28. What a fantastic subject to write about! Good luck on your launch! I can’t wait to read this myself. 🙂


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