Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Animals and People

    Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

        I feel lucky to have found The Story of E.B. White, a Boy, a Mouse and a Spider so quickly. I've read quite a few longer biographies of White in my life, but celebrate this one, too, for it will please younger readers very much. It also may become a bridge for teachers to use to introduce his story to their readers ready for his books, or to students ready to study nature's wonders.
       The language used by Barbara Kerkert is brief but filled with the images White would have loved. She shares his time lingering in the barn as a young boy, "senses sharpened to the ripe scent of manure, the creak of harness leather, the perfect shape of eggs, the snort of tired horses, the sweet-dry scent of hay, and a spider's masterpiece." Each page holds poetic pictures that make me want to return to grandparents' farms and look again. 
          Lauren Castillo's softly colored illustrations show a thought-filled boy, enjoying being with animals, loving the outdoors, wondering who he might be when he grew up. And then, growing up and discovering that who he was as a boy is who he continued to be. There is added information in an author's note at the back, with a picture of an older White and a bibliography.
          Among numerous favorite pages, I love that this double-page spread below
became this:

         My older granddaughter recently read Charlotte's Web. I am looking forward to sharing this wonderful book with her about the writer who gave her a book to love.

        Because this book is also about the relationship between people and animals, I wanted to share this wonderful story, too. In the Korean War, one group of U.S. Marines were exhausted carrying shells up a hill to a cannon when one of them, Lt. Eric Pedersen, had an idea. Why not use a horse? The problem was that the only one he could find was a small mare with a white blaze, more a racehorse than a mule. He took a chance, and she, who earned the name Reckless, became that horse. Iacopo Bruno creates the pages with war scenes of soldiers working and fighting and resting while all along, Lt. Pedersen trains the mare. Through patience and a lot of treats (he soon learned she loved to eat--everything), they readied her with a big pack, then loaded the shells. She didn't try to throw them off but was calm and seemed ready to do her job. I enjoyed how Iacopo created some illustrations like photographs with scrapbook corners or extra pieces that add to the scene, like playing cards and poker chips when the soldiers were playing poker, with Reckless, too! The illustrations are full of action on every page, beautiful to see!
     Patricia McCormick writes the story about this amazing relationship from the beginning training to when Reckless helped the soldiers make it through an important battle. The statistics are given below, but here they are again: fifty-one trips, gone a distance of thirty-five miles up and down steep terrain, carried nine thousand pounds of ammunition. Reckless saved many lives through her actions. It's hard to see how she survived! After being promoted to Staff Sergeant at the end of her career, she was allowed to move to the U.S. 

       The backmatter shares that Reckless had three colts: Fearless, Dauntless and Chesty. There is also a wonderful backstory written by Patricia McCormick about how she discovered this story and about the early life of Reckless and her original owners.The endpapers are collaged with newspapers showing war headlines and then at the back, parts of the medals and acclamations earned by Reckless. It's an inspiring story of a horse who helped soldiers do hard things, even in the terrible noises and dangers of battle, and the soldiers who loved one horse. 

         It's a nice thing to read two marvelous non-fiction picture books! Happy reading!


  1. Barbara Herkert is coming to our store this Sunday. Yay! I can't wait.

    1. Now I'm really jealous, Earl. I hope you'll share something about what happens! Her book is marvelous!


Thanks for visiting!