Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Case Study No. 0636: That Book Woman

That Book Woman
That Book Woman
Tags: Heather Henson 3rd grade Picture book mountain librarian reading books
Added: 1 month ago
From: MsSantiagoRCSD
Views: 26

From amazon.com:

"That Book Woman" by Heather Henson, illustrated by David Small
Release Date: October 7, 2008 | Age Level: 4 and up

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.


From barnesandnoble.com:

Grade 2–5

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.


From courierpress.com:

Back in the days of FDR and the WPA (Works Progress Administration), a group of intrepid women known as the Pack Horse Librarians delivered books and news of the day to Appalachian Kentucky families. Heather Henson's tribute to these women, "That Book Woman," introduces us to one of those adventurous souls through the eyes of young Cal. Living "... way up as up can get. So high we hardly sight a soul ..."

Cal and his family are most surprised when one day came the "clippity-clop" of a horse bearing a "lady wearing britches for all the world to see" toting two saddle packs of books to share. Cal is nonetheless skeptical. "Book larning" didn't suit him. Sister Lark, however, just itched to get her hands on the books. Pa offered to trade "a poke of berries" for one of the books - but "that book woman" wasn't there to trade goods.

She explained that the books could be borrowed until her next visit when she would bring a new supply. Caldecott Medalist David Small's ink, pastel, and watercolor illustrations depict each Kentucky season and how "that book woman" faithfully delivered her precious cargo in good weather and bad. Did Cal ever learn to appreciate books? For that you'll have to check out the book on your own - at your neighborhood library.


From mrshatzi.com:

My folks and me -
we live way up
as up can get.
So high
we hardly sight
a soul -
'cept hawks
a-winging in the sky
and critters
hid among the trees.

My name is Cal,
and I am not the first one
nor the least one neither.
But I am the oldest boy,
and I can help Pap
with the plowing
and I can fetch the sheep
when they take a-wander.

And I can bring the cow home too
come evening-time,
which is right handy,
seeing as how
my sister Lark
would keep her nose
a-twixt the pages of a book
daybreak to dusky dark
if Mama would allow.
The readenest child
you ever did see -
that's what Pap says.

Not me!
I was not born
to sit so stoney-still
a-staring at some chicken scratch.
And I do not fancy it one bit
when Lark plays Teacher -
the onliest school a jillion miles
back down the creek.
And even Lark can hardly
spread her wings and fly.
So now she aims
to school herself.
But me, I am no scholar-boy.

That's why I am the first to hear
the clippitty-clop
and spy the sorrel mare -
red as clay.
I am the first to know
the rider is no man at all,
but a lady wearing britches
for all the world to see.

'Course we make that stranger
kindly welcome
and she's friendly as can be,
and after sips of sassy tea
she lays her saddlebag
upon the table
and what spills out
might as well be gold
the way Lark's eyes shine
the way her hands
wont keep still,
reaching out to grab
a treasure.

Now what that lady brings
it's sure no treasure,
not to me,
but books!
Would you believe?
A passel of books she's packed
clear up the mountainside!
A hard day's ride
and all for naught,
I reckon.
For if she aims to sell her wares
just like the tinker-man
who travels 'round
with pots and pans
and such,
it's but a plain and simple fact,
we have no greenbacks here,
no shiny coins to spend.
Least-ways not
on dumb old books.

Well, Pap he takes one look at Lark
and clears his throat.
"A trade," he says.
"A poke of berries
for one book."
My hands double fist
behind my back.
I yearn to speak,
but daren't
It is the very poke I picked -
for pie,
not books.

To my surprise
the lady shakes her head
real firm.
She will not take
a poke of berries
nor a mess of greens
nor any thing
Pap names to trade.
These books are free,
as free as air!
Not only that -
why, two weeks to the day
she'll come again
to swap these books
for more!

Now me,
I do not care one hoot
for what that Book Woman
has carried 'round,
and it would not bother me
at all
if she forgot the way
back to our door.
But here she'll come
right through the rain
and fog
and cold.

That horse of hers
sure must be brave,
I reckon.

Comes a time
the world turns white
as Grampap's beard.
The wind it shrieks
like bobcats do
deep inside the dark of night.
So here we sit
tucked 'round the fire,
no thought to howdy-do's this day.
Why, even critters of the wild
will keep a-hid
come snow like this.

But sakes alive -
we hear a
tap tap tap
upon the window-glass.
And there she be -
wrapped tip to toe!
She makes her trade
right through the crack
to keep us folks
from catching cold.
And when Pap bids
her stay the night,
she only shakes her head.
"My horse will see me home,"
she says.

I stand a spell to watch
that Book Woman
And thoughts
they go a-swirling 'round
inside my head,
just like the whirly-flakes
outside the door.
It's not the horse alone
that's brave
I reckon,
but the rider, too.

And all at once
I yearn to know
what makes that Book Woman
risk catching cold,
or worse.

I pick a book with words
and pictures, too,
and hold it out.
"Teach me what it says."
And Lark,
she does not laugh
or even tease,
but makes a place,
and quiet-like
we start to read.

Pap says it's written
in the signs
how long or short
the winter stays.
This year the signs
they all foretold
of deepest snow,
of cold eternal.
And even though
most days
we're tight as toes
pinched into boughten shoes,
I do not mind.
A puzzlement,
I know, but true.

It's nigh on spring
before that Book Woman
can stop to visit a spell.
And Mama makes a gift -
the only precious thing she can -
her recipe for berry pie,
which is the best grub earthly.
"Not much, I know,
for all your trouble,"

Mama says,
and then her voice
goes low with pride,
"and for making
two readers outta one."

I duck my head
and wait until the very last
to speak my mind:
"Wish there was something
I could gift you too."
That Book Woman
turns to look at me
with big dark eyes.
"Come here, Cal,"
she says real gentle,
and I come close.
"Read me something."

I open up the book I'm holding,
a new one brought
this very day.
Just chicken scratch,
I used to figure,
but now I see
what's truly there,
and I read a little out.

"That's gift enough,"
she says,
and smiles so big,
it makes me smile
right back.

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