That Book Womanby Heather Henson, David Small
Cal is not the readin' type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he'd rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the
Cal is not the readin' type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he'd rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the mountain, and Cal knows that's not easy riding. And all just to lend his sister some books. Why, that woman must be plain foolish or is she braver than he ever thought?
That Book Woman is a rare and moving tale that honors a special part of American history the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifetime readers.
A simple and heartfelt paean to the Pack Horse Librarians of the 1930s who were part of a WPA program founded to take books to remote areas. Cal and his family live high in the Appalachian hills. He's proud to be a hard worker and scorns his sister, who'd read all day if allowed. When a stranger appears on horseback to deliver books, Cal wants nothing to do with her until one winter evening when she braves the snowy mountain to deliver her goods. Her courage and strong will make him realize that her job must be very important, so he asks his sister to teach him to read. Henson's free-verse narrative is peppered with colloquialisms and authentic-sounding language that might be tricky for some readers, but lend immediacy and atmosphere to the story. Done in pale browns and greens, Small's signature ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict an austere mountain home and the hardscrabble lives of family members who have little to spare. Cal's expressions of resentment and anger, and then his acceptance and enjoyment of reading, are shown with simple yet effective lines. Pair this poignant book with Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer's Down Cut Shin Creek (HarperCollins, 2001) for an excellent unit on these dedicated women and for a great discussion starter on the importance of books.-Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada
Meet the Author
Heather Henson lives on a farm in Kentucky with her husband and three children, and is the author of several picture books and novels, including That Book Woman and Dream of Night.
David Small is the Caldecott Award–winning illustrator of So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George. He also received Caldecott Honors for The Gardener by Sarah Stewart and One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo. He’s illustrated dozens of other award-winning books, including That Book Woman by Heather Henson and The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, and lives in Michigan with his wife, Sarah Stewart.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
This was kind of sweet. The story was also good.
Children will enjoy this lively story of a boy and how reading becomes important to him. A must for any elementary teacher!
I consider myself a bookwoman; my license plate is BKWOMAN. When I saw the title of this book, I had to have it. The story is from the viewpoint of a rural North Carolina reluctant reader during the depression. It's written in the dialect of the area and the times. The pack horse librarians brought books to isolated farmers and mountain people who otherwise would not have had books. The women (and a few men) were determined and steadfast. The beautiful watercolors of David Small (Imogene's Antlers)add a richness to the story. I'm proud to be a librarian.
Heather Hensen has a beautiful way with language! She captures the spirit of another time and place. That Book Woman tells about the pack horse riders who bravely traveled through the Appalachian Mountains to bring books to impoverished children. This little told piece of American history underscores the importance of books, and how they widen our world. This provided some great discussion among my own children, and I think it would be a wonderful classroom story as well.