Reviews for Toby and the Secret Code
"What a wonderful way to share a neglected part of our history! The author and illustrator presented a story rich in Choctaw culture and language. [The book] emphasizes strength in diversity and shows that heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things during critical times. "
With heartfelt gratitude,
Beth Lawless, grand-daughter of code talker, Tobias Frazier
Instructor of Adult Education
Toby and the Secret Code, A Choctaw Adventure by Una Belle Townsend
illustrated by Gwen Coleman Lester
Doodle and Peck Publishing, 2016, 32 pages, age 6+
As he reads his class report, Toby couldn't be prouder of his hero and namesake, his great-great-grandfather, Tobias Frazier. Tobias Frazier was one of 19 Choctaw soldiers in World War I who helped the US Army by using the Choctaw language to create a secret code, one the enemy couldn't figure out. When Toby's friend Charlie said he wished they could have a secret code like the code talkers, Toby offered to teach him some Choctaw worlds. Toby's grandfather, Papa Tobe, even helped them with pronunciation, as the boys played soldiers with walkie-talkies. One morning, when Toby arrived at his grandfather's fishing hole, he found Papa Tobe on the ground, hurt and muttering in Choctaw. Luckily, Toby could now understand what he was saying and was able to get help for him quickly. Toby never would have saved his grandfather if he hadn't been inspired by his WWI hero and code talker. This is a nice intergenerational story about a part of Choctaw history that is not well know. There are lots of basic Choctaw words with pronunciation for young readers to learn, including colors, numbers and days of the week. There is also a Glossary, a list of the 19 code talkers, including Tobias Frazier, and websites for more information about the Choctaw Nation. Illustrator Gwen Coleman Lester is a member of the Choctaw Nation.
Illustrator Gwen Coleman Lester and I at the Choctaw Code Talker's Assn. meeting in Tuskahoma, Ok during Labor Day Activities.
Photo taken by Dr. William Meadows --Univ. of Missouri