Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness

By: Donna Janell Bowman

Illustrator: Daniel Minter

A biography of William “Doc” Key, a former slave and self-trained veterinarian, who taught his horse to read, write, and do math. Afterword, with photographs of Doc and Jim Key. Quotation sources. Author’s sources. Full-color illustrations rendered as linoleum block prints painted with acrylic.

ISBN: 9781620141489

JLG Release: Jan 2017


Sensitive Areas: No sensitive areas
Topics: Bill Key (1833–1909) , Beautiful Jim Key (horse) , Humane education , U ,S , history , Horse training , U ,S , horse trainers , Biography , Human-animal communication , Human-animal relationships

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Biography Elementary

Grades 2-6

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Awards & Honors

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award 2017, Rcommended Book
Booklist 2016 Editors’ Choice, Books for Youth, Middle Readers, Nonfiction
ALSC Notable Children’s Books 2017, Middle Readers
2016 Cybils Finalist, Elementary/Juvenile Nonfiction

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

A profile of William “Doc” Key and his relationship with animals, specifically his skilled horse Jim. Key was born a slave in Shelbyville, TN, in the 1830s. After the Civil War, he stayed in Shelbyville and built a veterinary where he sold his homemade remedies, and became very successful. Referred to as “Doc” Key, he travel A profile of William “Doc” Key and his relationship with animals, specifically his skilled horse Jim. Key was born a slave in Shelbyville, TN, in the 1830s. After the Civil War, he stayed in Shelbyville and built a veterinary where he sold his homemade remedies, and became very successful. Referred to as “Doc” Key, he traveled extensively while pursuing various entrepreneurial goals. Key eventually trained a clumsy colt named Jim to amaze audiences with his uncanny ability to spell and do math. He donated portions of his proceeds to humane societies and was instrumental in raising awareness for the compassionate treatment of animals. Minter’s linoleum block prints, painted with acrylic, add the perfect historic feel to an incredible true story. The extensive back matter will be useful for student reports. VERDICT A solid purchase for most collections with an interest in biographies and animal rights.—Jennifer Steib Simmons, Anderson County Library, SC

Horn Book

William “Doc” Key was a self-taught veterinarian, businessman, and patent medicine salesman who was born into slavery in 1833 and became a free man after the Civil War. In 1889 his beloved horse Lauretta gave birth to the colt Jim, a sickly creature that nevertheless showed remarkable intelligence. With Doc’s gentle, noncoercive t William “Doc” Key was a self-taught veterinarian, businessman, and patent medicine salesman who was born into slavery in 1833 and became a free man after the Civil War. In 1889 his beloved horse Lauretta gave birth to the colt Jim, a sickly creature that nevertheless showed remarkable intelligence. With Doc’s gentle, noncoercive training, Jim learned to read, spell, write, and do sums, and thus became the star of Doc’s traveling shows. As their fame grew, the two teamed up with the country’s newly founded humane societies, raising money for the cause and inspiring about two million children to sign “the official Jim Key Pledge: ‘I promise always to be kind to animals.’” Bowman’s steady, natural narration pays close attention to the bond between Doc and Jim, including humorous details of Jim’s behavior, while incorporating the social conditions facing an emancipated black man in the latter part of the nineteenth century and Doc’s insistence on integrating the spaces where he and Jim performed. An intriguing afterword touches on Doc’s experiences during the Civil War and gives additional details about Jim’s feats of intelligence, although it fails to discuss the Clever Hans Effect (identified in 1907, a year after Doc and Jim’s retirement) and so misses the chance to suggest further topics of exploration. Minter’s enticing woodcut-style illustrations, marked by heavy black-scored lines for texture and rich greens, reds, and chocolate-browns, are lit by a golden glow that warms people and animals alike, the perfect medium to reflect Doc’s philosophy of kindness. anita l. burkam

Book Details

ISBN

9781620141489

First Release

January 2017

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

Page Count

48

Accelerated Reader

Level 5.3; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 6.3; Points: 3;

Lexile

Level 910L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Lee & Low

Potentially Sensitive Areas

No sensitive areas

Topics

Bill Key (1833–1909), Beautiful Jim Key (horse), Humane education, U,S, history, Horse training, U,S, horse trainers, Biography, Human-animal communication, Human-animal relationships,

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