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That Book Woman Hardcover – October 7, 2008


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That Book Woman + Rain School + My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416908129
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416908128
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 10.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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. Pair this poignant book with Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer's Down Cut Shin Creek (HarperCollins, 2001) for an excellent unit on these dedicated women and for a great discussion starter on the importance of books.—Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Cal describes his way-up mountain home—“So high / we hardly sight / a soul”—but that changes when the Book Woman, a traveling librarian, rides up to the house. The Book Woman is a boon for Cal’s sister, Lark, “the readenest child you ever did see,” but no use to Cal, who is not “born / to sit so stoney-still / a-starin at some chicken scratch.” However, he is impressed by the librarian, who rides in all weather; finally, he asks Lark to teach him to read. This tribute to the Pack Horse Librarians of Appalachia has a lyric, simple style that lends itself to reading aloud. Henson, a Kentucky native, creates a reliable narrator in Cal, whose journey to reading is gentle and believable. There are a couple of stereotypes here (Mother is pregnant and barefoot), but overall, the mixed-media illustrations (ink, watercolor, pastel) support the text’s genial flow. Mountains and sky achieve a lofty spaciousness that makes the Book Woman’s ride even more impressive. An author’s note gives background on the WPA’s Pack Horse Librarian program. Grades 2-4. --Janice Del Negro

More About the Author

Heather Henson was born and raised in central Kentucky in a summerstock theater her father founded sixty years ago, and her family still owns and operates. After moving to New York City to study theater and filmmaking, Heather decided to focus on her first love: writing. She graduated from the New School with a degree in creative writing and literature, and went on to work as an editor of children's books at a major publisher. After many years in New York, she returned to her home state of Kentucky to focus on her writing, which has always been deeply influenced by her roots. Her award-winning picture books and novels celebrate little known pieces of Kentucky history (the Frontier Nursing Service and the Pack Horse Library Project), illuminate the behind the scenes world of theater, and explore the angst of growing up in a small town. Heather's picture book, That Book Woman, recently won the Christopher Award as well as the Great Lakes Book Award. Heather lives on a farm in central Kentucky with her husband and three children.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Cal respected the Book Woman for her courage, dedication and persistence.
Janette Fuller
Trying to read things like, "Lark would keep her nose a-twixt the pages of a book...." was a bit irritating to me, until my daughter started laughing.
Jodi
David Small's illustrations are just beautiful and capture a great story.
Jansel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jodi VINE VOICE on September 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the things I look for in a children's book, besides a good storyline itself, is good illustrations. Before buying a book, I ask myself two questions:

1) "Could I read this book to my daughter over and over and over again without getting sick of it?" and

2) "Could I look at these illustrations over and over and over again without getting sick of them?"

Since my daughter can't read yet, only well illustrated books (combined with my attempts at multiple character voices) will hold her interest. This book has passed that test.

The storyline itself deals with the Pack Horse Librarians who used to deliver books to the people living in the Appalachian mountains and it is written from the first person point of view. Cal, our narrator, talks about "that woman" who comes every two weeks like clockwork to deliver books to them. In the beginning, Cal has no use for this woman or her books, ("...it would not bother me at all if she forgot the way back to our door.") but by the end of the story, he admits that he wishes he had a gift to give this stubborn woman whose resilience and devotion to her job turned him into a lifelong reader.

Cal speaks in an Appalachian dialect which, in the beginning, was a turn off for me. Trying to read things like, "Lark would keep her nose a-twixt the pages of a book...." was a bit irritating to me, until my daughter started laughing. Hearing Mommy speak these funny words in this funny voice was a real treat for her and anything that makes my daughter laugh is a keeper as far as I'm concerned.

I feel compelled to write a line or two about the illustrations.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Cha on October 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book grows on you as you think about it. However, the author uses way too much slang and is hard to follow. My kids were not that interested in the story. However, I stuck with it and when I was done reading it, it touched my heart. Being that it is about a piece of our history. Franklin Roosevelt funded a project to get books out to people who did not have libraries near them and they did not have access to books. Dedicated "Book Ladies" rode on horseback through any weather to get books to people. They were dedicated women who wanted to educate people and open a whole new world through reading. That alone makes this book a keeper. The only problem is that it could be a little easier for younger listeners to follow. The only reason I gave it 3 stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. J Parker on October 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book was very interesting for both my 8 yr old granddaughter as well as myself. I read it first & upon re-reading it to her, tried to read it as the characters were supposed to be speaking (in a mountain slang). Some parts I had to read twice but she was able to follow the story easily looking at the illustrations, which are excellent & tell the story.

This book is inspired by the true and courageous work of the Pack Horse Librarians, who were known as "Book Women". The women would travel on horseback to difficult to reach rural areas in the Appalachian Mountains during the Depression loaning books to families. The Pack Horse Library Project was set up by Franklin D. Roosevelt's Work Projects in the 1930's.

The Book Woman is a must read
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Clare Chu on October 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Cal wasn't very interested in reading. But he admired the courage and determination of the book woman, a traveling librarian who would ride through all kinds of weather, every two weeks to bring them books for free. One day, he asks his sister to teach him how to read, and before the winter was over, there were now two readers in the family.

This book is a tribute to those brave and dedicated "book women", who would ride through the rural hills to faraway villages bringing books so that children can read. I didn't know about their existence until I read this book. Thanks for sharing this fascinating story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patricia L. Marks on September 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I grew up surrounded by books.A passion for reading came from my Dad and children's books that soared with my imagination.This book is great for story time with pre-schoolers through 3rd grade. Great for teachers, Moms and Dads, older siblings and anyone who wants to pass on a love for reading.The pictures are engaging as is the Appalachian mode of speech. THAT BOOK WOMAN made substantial efforts to get books into the hands of children high up in the mountains.Enjoy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. MB VINE VOICE on September 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I ordered this book because I teach 2nd grade and I thought the students might like it. I was wrong. They loved it. As I read it to them they remained fascinated throughout the entire book. It is about the Pack Horse Librarians who used to travel the Appalachian Mountains and deliver books to children who lived to far away to attend school. The characters in this story are a little girl, Lark, who loves to read, and her brother, Cal, who thinks the "chicken scratch" is a waste of time. During one long, isolated winter the libraian continues to come to their house. She even shows up during a blizzard. Cal is so impressed by her bravery he becomes curious about what she is delivering. As he learns to read his relationship with his sister, the librarian, and the world changes. This is a very good story to read to children because it not only teaches them the importance of books, but also to be open to new ideas in general. The students loved the story and the illistrations. I was greeted with the one phrase teachers love to hear, "Read it to us again!"
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