Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Never judge an actress by her glamor or profession, because there may be something under that camera-ready veneer. In Hedy Lamarr’s case, there was an extremely creative brain, one that worked nonstop, even while she was acting.

Jacket flap: “Meet savvy scientist and inventor Hedy Lamarr, also known for her career as a glamorous international movie star. Dubbed ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in the World,’ Hedy actually preferred spending time creating inventions in her workshop to strutting down the red carpet.”

From the first spread:

copyright-  text: Laurie Wallmark, art: Katy Wu

we discover that Hedy Lamarr was a woman who lived in two worlds, one of science and one of illusion. She preferred science, but was pigeon-holed and paid for her acting and beauty. Shocking! (It’s hard to say shocking with one’s tongue firmly embedded in one’s cheek.)


We learn that she is responsible for an invention that we all benefit from today: “frequency hopping spectrum” that keeps our phones, WIFI, and other wireless communications secure from hacking.

BUT what I loved most about this story is how MUSIC played such a huge role in the discovery. I leave it to you all to read this story and find out for yourselves. Suffice to say that the ARTS, one of the critical elements of STEAM, should never be allowed to die or take a back seat to any other subject.

The illustrations have an appropriate retro feel, similar to the illustrations for Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, a previous book about another fabulous female scientist created by this author/illustrator team.


Like many fabulous nonfiction authors, Laurie Wallmark offers a host of resources and activities for using this book as a teaching tool on her website.

Title: Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life

Author: Laurie Wallmark

Illustrator: Katy Wu

Publisher: Sterling, 2019

Themes: technology, science, women

Ages: Grades 3-6

For more perfect picture books, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.

16 thoughts on “Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      One of the things I love about reading NF picture book bios (especially about unsung female heroes) is how much I learn. Getting that does of history that was missing in my education, and then inspiring me to learn more about them. Love it!

        • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

          Fun, right? Although I do occasionally read adult nonfiction, I’m such a slow reader that I’d never be able to read enough to cover all of the topics I find interesting, otherwise.

          • Mrs. P says:

            I have actually set a goal to read at least a half hour a day…and once I get into a book I find I naturally read more…but it takes discipline…always too many other things going on.

  1. Joanna says:

    This is why I LOVE children’s nonfiction. I discover so many things and people I no nothing or little about, as in this biography. And it is pitched at the perfect introductory level for me.

  2. Ste J says:

    This is great, adults can be educated with their children and discover new things. I had never heard of her, not being too interested in tech, this is great stuff.

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