Calico Dorsey

Overview

Neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night kept this poch from his appointed rounds!

Back in the 1880s, when the Old West boomed with the rush for gold and silver, the miners of Calico, California, needed a mail carrier they could count on.  And they found him in a Border collie named Dorsey.  Based on the true story of the most celebrated canine mail carrier in U.S. history, Calico Dorsey tells the tale of a winsome stray who found ...

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Overview

Neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night kept this poch from his appointed rounds!

Back in the 1880s, when the Old West boomed with the rush for gold and silver, the miners of Calico, California, needed a mail carrier they could count on.  And they found him in a Border collie named Dorsey.  Based on the true story of the most celebrated canine mail carrier in U.S. history, Calico Dorsey tells the tale of a winsome stray who found both a home and a calling on the mining trails of the Old West.

An Author's Note includes a photograph of the real-life Dorsey, as well as historical information about the dog and the mining town he called home. 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Review, Booklist, October 15, 2010:
"This title, illustrated in realistic, appealing oil paintings and spare, well-paced prose, conveys a sense of the Old West—not the rush for riches but the open trail and the warm details of daily activity. ...[C]hildren will eagerly follow Dorsey as he travels the trails alone, with mailbags buckled onto his furry back."

Review, Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2010:
"Readers should enjoy—and be enlightened by—this delightful sidebar to California history."

Review, Modern Dog, Winter 2010/2011 issue:
"Adam Gustavson's delightful images ensure readers both young and old will enjoy this tale that illustrates the important roles dogs can play in our lives."

Kirkus Reviews
Set in the silver-mining camps of California's Mojave Desert in 1885, this is the semi-factual story of Dorsey, a remarkable Border collie who carried the United States mail between Bismarck and Calico. Apparently, after following the mail burro between the towns the former stray knew the route; here, the postmaster's daughter Nellie acts as the initial motivation for the lonely dog to make the trek. Border collies are famous for their work ethic, and as a mail dog he conscientiously and expeditiously carried letters and small packages to the miners. Readers should enjoy—and be enlightened by—this delightful sidebar to California history. Gustavson's illustrations in oil convey topography, characters, settings and a fine canine. They are active and charming, and Dorsey leaps off the page, tail wagging, just waiting for pats, company and biscuits. One jarring note: All the miners and their clothing seem very clean considering their trade and the scarcity of water in the desert. An author's note provides a photo of Dorsey with his mail pouches and good historical information, including the fact that Nellie is fictional. (Picture book. 4-8)
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—Illuminating California's silver mining era, Lendroth creates a plausible story line. It is based on a possibility of actual events surrounding the Border collie that came to be an official U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, crossing the Mojave Desert between the town of Calico and the hills where the miners and prospectors worked. Perspectives on the dog's experiences are related by the Stacey brothers, who run the general store and post office; Nellie, the young daughter and niece; and Dorsey himself, which create excitement for young readers. In the author's notes, Lendroth writes that she uses the information she found during her research to create a story based on fact. Gustavson's paintings are intergrated into the text, flowing from page through the centerfold to page, making this obscure story larger than life. The vitality of the characters is enhanced by the artist's accurate, yet expressive details that add humor and sweetness to the faces of both the people and Dorsey.—Tina Hudak, St. Albans School, Washington, DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582463186
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,458,632
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.60 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

SUSAN LENDROTH doesn't live far from Calico, the mining town where the dog called Dorsey used to deliver mail. Calico Dorsey is Susan's third picture book. She lives in Sierra Madre, California.

ADAM GUSTAVSON has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the award-winning The Yankee at the Seder, also published by Tricycle Press. Adam received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He lives in West Orange, New Jersey.

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Read an Excerpt

   Al Stacy almost missed the stray huddled on the porch. Wistful brown eyes looked up at him from the shadows. Al sighed. "Come on," he said, opening the door.
   His brother, Everett, was stirring a pot while Everett's daughter, Nellie set the table.
   "Where'd you find him?" asked Nellie.
   "He sort of found me," said Al, shaking the rain off his hat. Everett dished up four plates of stew over biscuits. Nellie brought one to the wet dog, then sat beside him, stroking his bedraggled fur.
   "What's his name, Uncle Al?"
   "I think I'll call him Dorsey."
   Al's new dog wagged his tail.
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