William "Doc" Key had a special way with animals. Growing up enslaved in Tennessee, Doc was sent to plantations around the state to care for sick and wounded animals. When the Civil War ended and Doc was freed, he began to dream of breeding a winning racehorse. But those dreams were dashed when his colt was born weak and sickly. Although many people would have euthanized the colt, Doc nursed him back to health and named him Jim.
Noticing a level of curiosity and eagerness in the horse, Doc began teaching Beautiful Jim Key first to recognize letters, then to read, write, add, subtract, and more. Doc soon took his talented horse on the road, spreading a message of patience and kindness, over cruelty, to all animals.
With striking illustrations by Daniel Minter, Step Right Up is the inspiring story of one man and one horse who showed the world the power of kindness.
This biography explores Common Core English Language Arts Standards and Social Studies Standards.
|Publisher:||Lee & Low Books, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||9.30(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.50(d)|
|Age Range:||7 - 12 Years|
About the Author
DONNA JANELL BOWMAN first heard about Doc and Jim Key in 2005. She didn't believe that a horse could learn to read, so she began doing her own research and was inspired to tell Doc and Jim's story for young readers. Bowman grew up on a horse ranch and still loves to visit the ranch and its resident horses. Bowman lives in Texas with her husband, their twosons, and their rescue animals, Sparky and Mittens. This is her first picture book.
DANIEL MINTER is an award-winning illustrator and adjunct art instructor at Maine College of Art. He received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor in 2013 for Ellen's Broom. Minter finds inspiration from observing the natural world and thinking about history and science. He also practices Asian and African martial arts, including capoeira angola, karate, and escrima.Minter lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife and their son.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm obsessed with this book! I read it time and again to people curious about nonfiction picture books, and I can't stop telling people about how fascinating it is that Jim Key could read, spell words, and make change on his own! I highly, highly recommend this book!
This is a fascinating story, carefully researched and beautifully told and illustrated. My husband and I have very much enjoyed reading it with young daughter, and have all learned a lot as we have done so.
A beautifully written story of the important and meaningful relationships that can be built between animals and people.
The reviews from the publisher, HornBook, etc. are fine as far as they go. The book is beautiful, it's well written, and it carries messages about the life of ex-slaves, kindness to animals, what can be accomplished with kind training. HOWEVER it does nothing to address the fact that Jim could not have done the tricks he did without being cued by Doc. The back of the book is full of details "behind the story," but almost all of the sources cited are from the turn of the last century. Yes, even Harvard professors were taken in. A few years after this story, a horse named Clever Hans allegedly did similar tricks, though much simpler ones. In his case, it was determined that his owner was giving small cues: a nod of the head, a tap of his stick on the ground. Two recent sources cited, from 2006 and 2007, are about preventing cruelty and the emotional lives of animals. Nothing about cognitive development. The story is amazing enough if you acknowledge that cues must be employed. I think it does a grave disservice to readers today, especially children, to leave the impression that this story can be literally true.