Book of the Week: That Book Woman

That Book Woman by Heather Henson Illustrated by David Small

Published: 2008 by Atheneum Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

 Uses words like a-twixt. That’s kind of awesome, don’t you think?!

It’s a country story – smooth and slow with a nice even tone.

It’s told in verse.

Liked the notion of comparing books to treasure. It feels like it brings attention to just how important books are, how they should be treated and valued. I feel it also shows, in a round about way how to appreciate books. If no one appreciated them, then they many not be any more, that what would that be like? (Scary, if you ask me)

For a picture book it has a very mature and sophisticated feel to it. I like how the author does not underestimate children in their abilities to read and to understand what is written.

It’s historical fiction – in a picture book format! I love it – it’s never to early to start a kid on the road of historical fiction. And it is based on true events – which I think offers children a glimpse into  the past, a past they may not have known about otherwise. (I had no clue about the events the book describes myself, and I’m in my 20’s)

The illustrations are done in what appears to be water-color – they lend a soothing effect to the book.  They are eloquent and really drive the story.

The illustrations bring the words on the page to life. As great as this book is as is, without the illustrations I think the book may get classified as a children’s poetry book, and may go unnoticed because of that. And it would be a shame for such a book to go unnoticed.

Even though the overall story is about a woman who rides horseback through the mountains of Kentucky just to deliver books, it’s told for a young boy, Cal’s perspective. A boy who doesn’t read and doesn’t understand the point of reading or why this woman would waste time coming back and forth every two weeks.

At the core, the book woman is like a “mobile” library. I think this could show readers that there getting books wasn’t always as easy as it is today. Not every place had a library, not every person used or was allowed to use the library. I think it’s a valuable part of history that the text books don’t teach.

This book is an example of the lengths people will go to pass a book into other’s hands. It also shows how dedicated people could be, and that we all should be as giving as some.

Through the book woman Cal learned what the definition of bravery is.

It shows the power of a great book. Cal a non-reader decides after seeing the book woman travel by horse in cold, winter snow. He started to read soon after, and actually found out he really did enjoy it.

This book is based on a true story about the Pack Horse Librarians *, and I like how the author’s note goes into full detail about what it is based on and the inspiration of it.

The author’s note states that at that time (in the 1930s) a woman’s place was thought to be in the home, not in the working world. I really appreciate the courage it took for these women to go against the grain and work in a “man’s” world. And that way of thinking didn’t hold them back from doing what they wanted to do.

The author’s note also features a brief (two or three titles) further reading list that I think the parents will really appreciate because it seems like such an interesting subject.

This book really fueled me to do some more research on the topic of Pack Horse Librarians. I think they are truly innovative inspirations that all librarians could learn from.

* I found a blog hosting a few pictures of these Pack Horse Librarians that I thought were interesting and thought it would be nice to share. Head over to 10Engine Blog to check them out.

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