Elem./MG – That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White

Bonsignore, Gregory. That’s Betty! The Story of Betty White. Henry Holt and Company, 2022. 978-1-250-79660-8. $18.99. 48 p. Grades PreK-3.

When Miss Cruz assigns a presentation on a “trailblazing woman” one student decides he will pick Betty White as his topic. Though his classmates do not know who Betty White is, and his teacher and two dads each try to persuade him to pick a more traditional topic, the unnamed male student sticks to his idea. He adores Betty White and wants to learn more about her life. When our young researcher enlists the assistance of a librarian, he begins to find plenty of material on his unconventional topic choice. As he pours through resources at the library, a smartly dressed woman in a large hat and sunglasses appears from behind the stacks. She knows an awful lot about Betty White and engages the student in discussions about the many trailblazing accomplishments of the pioneering television star. When the student fears his topic may be too different from his peers’ presentations, the woman in the hat encourages him to follow Betty’s example of making unconventional choices and believing in himself. The presentation is a huge success, and the lady from the library even makes a surprise appearance to cheer on the student. It isn’t until she drives away from the school that the teacher, class, and student realize the mystery woman was Betty White herself. Includes timeline and bibliography.

THOUGHTS: Very cute story that does a nice job of highlighting the many accomplishments of Betty White, while subtly championing the causes she held dear – inclusion, diversity, charitable work, and being an LGBTQIA+ ally. Wonderfully detailed illustrations by Jennifer M. Potter. Listed as K-3 this would be a wonderful read aloud for students through 8th grade.

Picture Book Biography          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD

New YA Memoir – Becoming Maria


Manzano, Sonia.  Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2015.  978-0-545-62184-7.  $18.00. 262p. Gr. 9 and up.

Most of us grew up watching Sesame Street and know all of its familiar loveable characters like members of our own families, but we may not have thought about how they got to that famed street.  Becoming Maria shares Sonia Manzano’s journey from the South Bronx to Sesame Street sharing her earliest memories spanning from discovering her love of the theater as a young child to getting accepted at Carnegie Mellon University for acting.  The emotional abuse that she endured from her alcoholic father, and the physical and sexual abuse from strangers will tug on readers’ heartstrings.  Her family’s desire to create a better life for themselves was a struggle and often didn’t go as planned.  They moved a lot from shabby apartment to shabby apartment often taking in family members as they immigrated from Puerto Rico.  Becoming Maria is a true depiction of the American Dream and will give hope to all students with the desire to reach for the stars.  Thoughts: This is a great memoir of a familiar tv star.  It could be used in the tv classroom, theater arts program, or even in a history or language arts classroom.  The writing hooks readers in with short chapters that lead the reader through the seventies and eighties.  

Memoir     Laura Ward, Fox Chapel Area High School