Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. With linguistics and reading degrees, her fascination with language, and a penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth is drawn to stories that open minds, touch hearts, and inspire questions. Born and raised in Illinois, she now lives in Loveland, Colorado.
Beth Anderson has always been fascinated with words and language – from sound and meaning, to figurative language and point of view, to cultural and scientific aspects of language. After earning a B.A. in linguistics and a M. Ed. in reading, she taught English as a Second Language for more than 20 years. Surrounded by young people from all over the world, with literature as her favorite tool, Beth experienced the power of books to teach, connect, and inspire.
Encouraged by her elementary school teachers in Grayslake, Illinois, she carried with her the itch to write. From poems, plays, and puppet shows, to stories and memoir pieces… through Wisconsin, Ohio, Connecticut, Georgia, Texas, and into Colorado, it followed her. In 2013, she began her journey writing for children. Combining her love of writing with the joys of discovery and learning, she found her niche with narrative nonfiction and historical fiction picture books.
To Beth, writing is mining. It’s digging deep inside for special memories, emotions, and meaning. It’s burrowing into history for inspiring characters and moments that change the course of events. It’s delving into the how and why and what if and seeing the past through the lens of the present. Then the search for just the right words begins – words that will create voice, bring characters to life, and reveal the heart of the story.
When she’s not writing, she might be weaving, gardening, exploring nature, or playing with her grandkids. Born and raised in Illinois, she now lives near the mountains in Colorado.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram (@BAndersonWriter)
Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary
PHOTO CREDIT: Tina Wood Photography
An Inconvenient Alphabet, Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution
Written by Beth Anderson
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books | 48 pages, 2018
Educator Guide from S&S
Do you ever wish English was eezeeyerto spell? Ben Franklin and Noah Webster did! Beth Anderson and the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Dissent, Elizabeth Baddeley, tell the story of two patriots and their attempt to revolutionize the English alphabet.
“Both Anderson’s text and Baddeley’s illustrations are energetic and compelling… Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk.” Kirkus
“The combination of bold illustrations, humorous anecdotes, and fabulous storytelling makes this true tale anything but boring…a delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated tale…” School Library Journal
School Library Journal’s Alternative Anticipated Children’s Books of Fall 2018 List
“Thought-provoking and entertaining.”—School Library Connection
“Engaging…A comprehensible, lively read.”—Publishers Weekly
HONORS: JLG Selection, Finalist Colorado Children’s Book Award
Lizzie Demands a Seat: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights
Written by Beth Anderson
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis,
Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills & Kane 2020
In 1854, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings, an African American schoolteacher, fought back when she was unjustly denied entry to a New York City streetcar, sparking the beginnings of the long struggle to gain equal rights on public transportation.
⭐️ “…Anderson’s third-person text allows readers under Lizzie’s skin as her indignation at injustice mounts. Children will readily recognize both the conductor’s capricious cruelty and Lizzie’s anger that “being born a ‘free black’ in a ‘free state’ ” does not mean being “treated as equal.” Lewis’ dappled watercolors depict the action and extend it… Necessary.” ~Kirkus
⭐️ “…Anderson’s vivid, well- researched narrative includes dialogue that “closely follows” accounts of Jennings’ experience that appeared in newspapers at the time…Lewis creates a series of vibrant, expressive watercolor paintings that transports viewers back in time, while portraying characters as distinct individuals. A memorable picture book introducing a nineteenth-century defender of civil rights.” ~Booklist”
⭐️ “…When Jennings is thrown off the streetcar, shown in a dramatic spread, a white witness steps forward, and Jennings decides to take her case to court—a risk: “if she failed to win, she could make it worse.” Shimmering jewel-toned watercolors blur and delineate details in Lewis’s paintings…” ~ Publishers Weekly
⭐️ “…The well-chosen language—“She’d been rejected, restricted, and refused by schools, restaurants, and theaters”—is a pleasure to read aloud. …Lewis employs pastel colors, shades of blues, pinks, and purples, and plenty of background yellow to portray the characters and their surroundings. Shadowy background figures remind careful readers of the larger community that supported Jennings and were affected…VERDICT An important story beautifully told.” ~ School Library Journal
- Junior Library Guild Selection
- Shortlist for inaugural Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice
- Finalist Jane Addams Children’s Book Award
- Chicago Public Library Best Informational Books for Older Readers of 2020
- CSMCL Best Multicultural Children’s Books of 2020
- The 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books, on “Here Wee Read”
- 8 Stellar Picture Books for Black History Month 2020 on Kirkus
- A Mighty Girl: 50 Inspiring Books on Girls and Women of the Civil Rights Movement
- A Mighty Girl – Telling Her Story: New Mighty Girl Books for Women’s History Month 2020
- Children’s Book Council’s Champions of Change Showcase
- Children’s Book Council’s Strong Women, Real Change
“Smelly” Kelly and His Super Senses: How James Kelly’s Nose Saved the New York City Subway
Written by Beth Anderson
Illustrated by Jenn Harney
Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills & Kane, Oct. 13, 2020.
James “Smelly” Kelly used his super-senses and intelligence to make sure that the New York City subway in the 1930s ran safely throughout his lifetime and beyond.
Anderson casts him in a heroic mold, as he had not only a special ability, but the inner motivation to use it in service to public safety: “With such an honor came great responsibility.” (Shades of Spider-Man.) Depicted with a confident smile and a mop of bright orange hair, Kelly shines as he goes after suggestive twists and curls of miasmic yellowish green in the illustrations’ succession of antique-looking street scenes and cross-sectional views of underground pipes and tunnels… Another immigrant gets the job done. ~Kirkus
In compelling prose, Anderson relays Kelly’s heroic exploits, including locating leak sources, inventing detection implements, and saving a man from beneath a train (“Inches from the underside of the car. Inches from the electrified third rail”). Harney’s digital illustrations evoke stylized pen and ink; coils of pea green bring noxious scents to life. Kelly’s brightly spotlighted escapades—as well as his distinctive red hair, rendered in a vibrant shade—serve as welcome contrast. ~Publishers Weekly
Anderson’s zesty stick-to-the-facts narration (only a brief passage about Kelly’s childhood is speculative) in this picture book biography will be a winner in class units on community helpers, and Harney’s digital illustrations, in which the ginger-haired, newsboy-capped Kelly glows with good-natured determination in the shadowy blues of the urban underbelly, crackle with energy. ~BCCB (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
The engaging text features dramatic incidents and rescues… Harney’s cartoon-style artwork is perfect for the narrative because it reinforces the idea that Kelly was a little-known superhero… The author’s note, bibliography, and further resources section could inspire readers to conduct more research. This would be an excellent book for talking about problem-solving and engineering. VERDICT Recommended for elementary collections, particularly those that emphasize makerspaces, problem-solving, or STEAM activities. ~ SLJ