Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero

By: Patricia McCormick

Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno

When a group of US Marines fighting in the Korean War found a bedraggled little mare, they wondered if she could be trained to as a packhorse. They had no idea that the skinny, underfed horse had one of the biggest and bravest hearts they’d ever known. Author’s note with photograph. Selected bibliography. Full-color illustrations were drawn with pencil and colored digitally.

ISBN: 9780062292599

JLG Release: Nov 2017


Sensitive Areas: Realities of war
Topics: Sergeant Reckless the horse (~1948–1968) , US Marine Corps , Korean War (1950–1953) , American participation in the Korean War , War horses , Twentieth-century US history

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Awards & Honors

Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2017, Informational Books for Younger Readers
Booklilst Lasting Connections 2017, Social Studies

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Book List*, The Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

At the height of the Korean conflict, a young racehorse was abandoned and left hungry at a racetrack. Around the same time, a nearby U.S. Marine unit was exhausted from lugging heavy ammunition uphill during their battles. While a mule would have been preferable, Sergeant Pederson trained that once-abandoned horse to carry the ammunition for the Ma At the height of the Korean conflict, a young racehorse was abandoned and left hungry at a racetrack. Around the same time, a nearby U.S. Marine unit was exhausted from lugging heavy ammunition uphill during their battles. While a mule would have been preferable, Sergeant Pederson trained that once-abandoned horse to carry the ammunition for the Marines—and what followed is a remarkable story. Named Reckless, she carried herself with aplomb under the roughest of combat conditions, in one battle she made 51 trips and carried 9,000-pounds of ammunition. Meanwhile she ate everything and anything, waking up the company cook to get her breakfast. Reckless would eventually attain the rank of Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. McCormick’s narrative is excellent and Brunos’s bold illustrations contribute to the story as much as the text. The work concludes with a synopsis of Reckless’s retirement in the United States. While Melissa Higgins’s Sgt. Reckless the War Horse: Korean War Hero is a suitable title, McCormick’s is more exciting. VERDICT This well-illustrated war story will appeal to many, especially fans of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse. A strong selection.—Margaret Nunes, Gwinnett County Public Library, GA

Horn Book

During the Korean War, U.S. Marines needed mules and packhorses to haul supplies. But finding such animals in the devastated countryside was difficult. One desperate lieutenant made what turned out to be a smart purchase—a scrawny, skittish racehorse—and had her trained to follow trails, carry a packsaddle, and stay calm in the face of During the Korean War, U.S. Marines needed mules and packhorses to haul supplies. But finding such animals in the devastated countryside was difficult. One desperate lieutenant made what turned out to be a smart purchase—a scrawny, skittish racehorse—and had her trained to follow trails, carry a packsaddle, and stay calm in the face of danger. In a straightforward text, McCormick describes the training, feeding (eggs, coffee, Coca-Cola, and whatever else could be found), and notable accomplishments of “Private Reckless,” including the distinction she earned on a single day by making fifty-one trips totaling thirty-five miles over hilly terrain and carrying nine thousand pounds of ammunition. Collages of faded newspaper facsimiles on the initial endpapers signal the setting of a war long ago and far away. Interior art (in a palette predominantly of greens and browns) employs replicas of historical artifacts, such as photographs and tins of C-rations, to further set the scene. Bruno depicts a tense combat scene with straight lines and sharp corners; the angles soften as the horse, who later became known as Sergeant Reckless, mingles with the troops at base camp, comically eating most everything in sight. Occasionally, Reckless or the men will break the fourth narrative wall and look directly at the audience, either as a mischievous nod to Reckless’s antics or to emphasize danger. An author’s note and a brief bibliography append this engaging historical anecdote. betty carter

Book Details

ISBN

9780062292599

First Release

November 2017

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

10" x 10"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.6; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 4.7; Points: 3;

Lexile

Level 780L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Balzer + Bray

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Realities of war

Topics

Sergeant Reckless the horse (~1948–1968), US Marine Corps, Korean War (1950–1953), American participation in the Korean War, War horses, Twentieth-century US history,

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