Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, February 18, 2019

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor
Written by Laurie Wallmark; Illustrated by Katy Wu
Sterling Children’s Book. 2019

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) was an actress in Hollywood during the 1930’s and 1940’s. She was famous, not for her intelligence, but her beauty. “People seem to think because I have a pretty face I’m stupid…I have to work twice as hard as anyone else to convince people I have something resembling a brain.” Though acting was fun, and a nifty way to earn a living, Hedy’s passion was science and engineering. She loved inventing things. 

Wallmark presents to readers a glimpse of a very smart woman whose brain overflowed with ideas. Wu’s illustrations, rendered digitally, show many of Lamarr’s ideas – “An accordion-fold pocket on tissue boxes; glow-in-the-dark dog collar; a device with a few steps and handles to help people get in and out of the bathtub" –displayed all over the wall of her parlor.

The story hones in on Lamarr’s invention called “frequency hopping.” Though kept secret for over forty years, this one invention now allows us to use this technology in our most popular electronic devices. This technology is what helps keep cell phone calls and texts private. “it’s the trick that allows secure wireless communications between computers and the Internet.”

Back matter includes a timeline, an author’s note, selected bibliography, additional reading, and a listing of Hedy Lamarr’s films.

Add this to the growing list of wonderful picture book biographies celebrating the many accomplishments of women. It’s about time.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library to write this review.


  1. Love Laurie's books! Looking forward to this one. Sounds fascinating!

    1. Hi Maria - Sad that Hedy Lamarr never got financial gain from her invention since we are so dependent on it now.

  2. Wonderful that women's accomplishments, including Hedy Lamarr's, are finally coming to light after being ignored for so long. This book looks fascinating. Thanks for the review.

  3. Yes! I have this book. It's fantastic!