From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Imagine a cold, steep trip up a mountain path; it is icy and a light rain falls. A woman is riding an old horse and has a bag full of books to deliver. The families she stops to see are waiting for her, a one-room schoolhouse full of children greet her at the door. One woman walks nine miles to meet her and exchange her books and magazines. This is a day in the life of a pack-horse librarian. From 1935 to 1943, local Kentucky women were paid a meager salary as part of the WPA to do just this. Appelt and Schmitzer present an in-depth look at this unusual book-delivery system. With clear, thorough information, they take readers back to Depression-era Appalachia. Details of the project, such as why local women were the best choice to deliver the books, how materials were obtained, and how the delivery circuit worked, are offered in a readable format. The authors capably describe the isolated and poverty-ridden lives of the Kentucky mountain folk. Generously illustrated with black-and-white photographs, this book paints a complete picture of one WPA project. Extensive source notes are included. Pair this fascinating title with Rosemary Wells's Mary on Horseback (Viking, 1999) for an intimate look at the Appalachian region during the Great Depression.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Aloha, OR
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-9. Unlike WPA programs that built roads, bridges, and other public projects across the country, the work of the Kentucky pack-horse librarians is practically unknown. These women and men rose before dawn and followed dangerous mountain trails to deliver books, magazines, pamphlets, and scrapbooks to the schools and homes of some of America's poorest people. Appelt and Schmitzer's slim but evocative account finally gives these early outreach librarians their due. The detailed text and accompanying photographs re-create a time of extreme hardship and explain how dedicated folks built a valuable service by pulling together resources from donations and discards. Although not a necessary purchase, this exploration of a forgotten bit of history will add dimension to regional collections and be of value to larger collections of works on the Great Depression. A rich, well-documented bibliography is appended. Randy MeyerCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved