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Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call: The Heroic Story of WWI Telephone Operators



by
Claudia Friddell
illustrated by
Elizabeth Baddeley

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Calkins Creek
Imprint
Print
ISBN
9781684373505
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None
$17.55
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Led by twenty-five-year-old Grace Banker, thirty-two telephone operators—affectionately called “Hello Girls” back in the US—became the first female combatants in World War I.

Follow Grace Banker’s journey from her busy life as a telephone switchboard trainer in New York to her pioneering role as the Chief Operator of the 1st Unit of World War I telephone operators in the battlefields of France. With expert skill, steady nerves, and steadfast loyalty, the Signal Corps operators transferred orders from commanders to battlefields and communicated top-secret messages between American and French headquarters. After faithfully serving her country—undaunted by freezing weather and fires; long hours and little sleep, and nearby shellings and far off explosions—Grace was the first and only woman operator in the Signal Corps to be awarded the Army’s Distinguished Service Medal.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
None

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

40

Trim Size

11" x 9"

Dewey

B

AR

0: points 0

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Apr 2021

Book Genres

Nonfic

Topics

Grace Banker (1892–1960). World War I (1914–1918). Women telephone operators. US Army Signal Corps. 

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Praise & Reviews

Horn Book

Already a college graduate and an instructor at a switchboard operators’ school, Grace Banker (1892–1960) “was used to marching in a man’s world” when she answered a newspaper ad to join U.S. troops in France as a telephone operator in the army’s Signal Corps during World War I. Banker was named chief operator of the first-ever unit of women soldiers; the thirty-three women risked their lives on the dangerous voyage overseas in 1918 and on the front, where they tirelessly relayed orders until the final ceasefire was uttered from Banker’s phone. Soon after, she received the Distinguished Service Medal—the army’s “highest honor for someone not in combat”—the first and only woman operator to ever do so. Friddell’s narrow focus on Banker’s twenty months of service highlights an inspiring, little-known story of everyday “girls” (as the text calls them) stepping up to heroically serve their country—despite gender injustices—and making history. The text incorporates, via blue type and speech bubbles, Banker’s own words from diaries and interviews, providing readers with a fascinating firsthand account of the experience. Baddeley’s attention to historical detail in her ink, acrylic, and digital-media illustrations helps accurately depict potentially unfamiliar, antiquated concepts such as switchboards, dazzle ships, and trench warfare. Black-and-white photographs of Banker and her unit accompany a timeline in the back matter, which also explains their post-war fight to be recognized as veterans by the U.S. government, additional facts about operating a switchboard, statistics about these brave women, and a bibliography. CYNTHIA K. RITTER

Praise & Reviews

Horn Book

Already a college graduate and an instructor at a switchboard operators’ school, Grace Banker (1892–1960) “was used to marching in a man’s world” when she answered a newspaper ad to join U.S. troops in France as a telephone operator in the army’s Signal Corps during World War I. Banker was named chief operator of the first-ever unit of women soldiers; the thirty-three women risked their lives on the dangerous voyage overseas in 1918 and on the front, where they tirelessly relayed orders until the final ceasefire was uttered from Banker’s phone. Soon after, she received the Distinguished Service Medal—the army’s “highest honor for someone not in combat”—the first and only woman operator to ever do so. Friddell’s narrow focus on Banker’s twenty months of service highlights an inspiring, little-known story of everyday “girls” (as the text calls them) stepping up to heroically serve their country—despite gender injustices—and making history. The text incorporates, via blue type and speech bubbles, Banker’s own words from diaries and interviews, providing readers with a fascinating firsthand account of the experience. Baddeley’s attention to historical detail in her ink, acrylic, and digital-media illustrations helps accurately depict potentially unfamiliar, antiquated concepts such as switchboards, dazzle ships, and trench warfare. Black-and-white photographs of Banker and her unit accompany a timeline in the back matter, which also explains their post-war fight to be recognized as veterans by the U.S. government, additional facts about operating a switchboard, statistics about these brave women, and a bibliography. CYNTHIA K. RITTER

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