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Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation’s oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author.

In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who—with perseverance and dedication—proved that you’re never too old to learn.

“Inspiring” —The Wall Street Journal

“A lovely, inspirational picture-book biography about beating the odds and achieving your dreams.” —Booklist, starred review

"Walker’s determination and her long, long life—she died at 121—offer genuine inspiration.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Enjoy this book with every child you know; let Mary Walker become a household name.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“An absorbing narrative and excellent illustrations combine to create a moving story of encouragement for youngsters.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“A riveting portrait of a strong-willed American icon.” —BookPage, starrred review

Comstock Read Aloud Book AwardWINNER 2021
Minnesota Book AwardNOMINEE 2022
Rhode Island Children’s Book AwardNOMINEE 2022
Tennessee Volunteer State Book AwardNOMINEE 2021
Texas Bluebonnet Master ListNOMINEE 2021
Virginia Young Readers Program AwardNOMINEE 2021
ALSC Notable Children’s BooksSELECTION 2021
Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the YearSELECTION 2021
Cooperative Children’s Book Center ChoicesSELECTION 2021
Notable Books for a Global Society AwardSELECTION 2021
Ohioana Book Award – About Ohio or an OhioanFINALIST 2021

Rita Lorraine Hubbard is the author of a number of nonfiction books for adults and runs the children’s book review site Picture Book Depot. She is the author of Hammering for Freedom: The Story of William Lewis, which was awarded the New Voices Award by Lee & Low Books and has received three starred reviews. Ms. Hubbard lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You can find her online at

Oge Mora is the author/illustrator of Thank You, Omu! which won a Caldecott Honor as well as the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. It was also selected as a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Staff Pick and was chosen by both Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal as a Best Book of 2018. Visit her at

Minnesota Book Award  NOMINEE 2022
Rhode Island Children’s Book Award  NOMINEE 2022
Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award  NOMINEE 2021
Texas Bluebonnet Master List  NOMINEE 2021
Virginia Young Readers Program Award  NOMINEE 2021
ALSC Notable Children’s Books  SELECTION 2021
Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices  SELECTION 2021
Notable Books for a Global Society Award  SELECTION 2021
Ohioana Book Award – About Ohio or an Ohioan  FINALIST 2021