Toby and the Secret Code
Toby helps his friend, Charlie, learn some Choctaw words including some of the secret code words used by the Choctaw code talkers during World War I. They pretend to play their "war games" up and down the banks of Frazier Creek. Eventually, they becomes heroes, too. The book includes a glossary and Choctaw words for some numbers, colors, and days of the week.
Gwen Coleman Lester, an award winning Choctaw artist, illustrated the book.
Some background about the code talkers.
During World War I, Tobias and others joined the 136th Infantry in Texas and were sent overseas to fight in the war. The Germans were decoding our messages, and we couldn't seem to get our messages through to other units without the Germans breaking the codes. There were many casualties.
One day, an officer overheard some Choctaw men speaking in their native language. There were other men in different units who also spoke Choctaw. It was decided to try using the Choctaw language among units where these men could interpret the messages. If they could communicate without the Germans decoding the language, then they might win more battles. It worked. Within a month or so, the war was over. The Germans could no longer decipher our messages.
When there was not a Choctaw word that could be used in the message, one was made up for it. For instance, when the men wanted to say how many tanks were in the area, they used the word "luksi"
which meant turtle. A turtle reminded the men of a tank.
The code talkers were sworn to secrecy, so very few people even knew that these brave men were code talkers. Sometimes, even their own families didn't know that they were "radio warriors". They were given very little recognition, and their families (mostly grandchildren and great grandchildren) were eventually given medals for their actions in World War I.
It's available through Doodle and Peck at www.doodleandpeck.com.
Nuchi Nashoba is president of the Choctaw Code Talker's Assn., and she was in charge of their booth at Tuskahoma during their Labor Day event. I enjoyed having the opportunity to sign my book in the Code Talker's booth.
I spotted Toby and the Secret Code in the Antler's library. It's near a beautiful work of art by Gwen Coleman Lester who donated the artwork below to the library. Gwen is the illustrator of Toby and the Secret Code. She is presently working on the next Choctaw code talker book.