Saturday, August 28, 2010

The importance of "chicken scratch"

That Book WomanMy kids are growing up and for the most part are getting past the stage where they read picture-books. But I wanted to mention one that we really liked and that Maddie still reads occasionally. That Book Woman by Heather Henson tells of the Pack Horse Librarians during the Depression. They carried books to families who otherwise didn't have access.

It tells the story through Cal, who lives with his family high up in the Appalachian Mountains. He's old enough to help out and kind of thinks his sister Lark's habit of reading is a waste of time. So he's surprised when a woman stranger starts showing up and lending books. He thinks her horse must be pretty brave when she continues to come regardless of the weather. But when she shows up in the bitterest cold, stopping only to slip books through the doorway to keep the family from getting cold, Cal decides she's pretty brave, too. And it makes him wonder what's so important about that "chicken scratch" that would make her risk going out on such a cold night.

We received this book from Amazon Vine a couple of years ago. When it arrived Jamie read it to Maddie (who was 6 at the time) and it left her in tears while Maddie stood by patting her on the shoulder. The language is kind of "hillbilly" and we had to explain what some words meant, but it's the story that really touches you. The artwork is beautiful; just simple watercolors and charcoal, I think, and really adds to the story. I finally had to get it from Jamie's bag to read it myself because she liked it so much she wanted to show it to the librarian and teachers at the elementary school.


  1. I think I'll need to get that book for my mom for Christmas. Sounds wonderful!

  2. I think she might like it - if I can remember I'll bring it to church so you can have a look at it first if you'd like.