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

Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero
by Patricia McCormick
Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Author bio and frequently asked questions:
https://www.patriciamccormick.com/about-me

Illustrator Information:

Illustrator interview for TBA nominee Mesmerized  (4:15):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GY8WkQ4RaZs

Activities & Resources:

Activities:

Educator’s Guide:
https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/ea2dd3_6373ab0ad8ba440fbcaf1116eefde378.pdf

22 Mind-Blowing Book Designs by Iacopo Bruno (includes quotes from an interview):
http://www.ucreative.com/articles/22-mind-blowing-book-designs-by-iacopo-bruno/

Horses:

Horse information:
http://www.ducksters.com/animals/horse.php

Online Horses Jigsaw Puzzles:
http://www.dltk-kids.com/puzzles/theme.asp?tid=245

Horse Head Silhouette or Stained Glass Paper Craft:
http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/m-silhouette-horse.htm

Card games:
http://www.ducksters.com/games/board_games.php

Korean War:
http://www.ducksters.com/history/cold_war/korean_war.php

Dog tags history:
https://www.armydogtags.com/dog-tag-history/

Countries:

North Korea info:
http://www.ducksters.com/geography/country.php?country=Korea,%20North

South Korea info:
http://www.ducksters.com/geography/country.php?country=Korea,%20South

United States Country Facts:
http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/countries/unitedstates.html

Food:

U.S. Army K rations:
http://www.usarmymodels.com/ARTICLES/Rations/krations.html

Food Quiz:
http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/quizzes/food.html

Oatmeal Recipe:
http://www.quakeroats.com/cooking-and-recipes/how-to-prepare-oats.aspx

Write a news article about Sergeant Reckless’ training, from his point of view.

MakerSpace Activities:

Design an invitation to a ceremony that honors Sergeant Reckless.

Design a cake that could be used at a ceremony to honor Sergeant Reckless. Use paper, a drawing app or building materials to construct the cake.

Create an infographic in print or digitally that describes the heroism of Sergeant Reckless.

Design a new card or board game that the soldiers could play.

Before guns and cannons were used in battles, militaries used catapults for defense. Build one and compete with others to see which design is most effective.

Discussion Questions:

Why do you think the illustrator chose to use newspaper headlines on the front end papers? Did you like the effect?

The soldiers named Reckless after their new rifle. What would you have named the horse and why?

The author said that a racehorse was high-strung and skittish. Describe what this means. Why are these good qualities for a racehorse?

Reckless needed special training to carry the ammunition shells. She started out like all newbies – a private. Explain how you feel about an animal being given a military rank.

The soldiers let Reckless drink Coca Cola. Do you have a favorite soft drink? If so, what is it and why do you like it? Have you tried other brands?

What qualities did Reckless possess? How do you know this? Do you think most horses have these qualities?

Do you have a pet? What animal is it and did you train it or help train it? If so, what was the process?

Did anything about Reckless’ training to carry the ammunition shells surprise you? Explain.

Why do you think the soldiers gave Reckless such a variety of treats? She seemed to like most foods including candy. Do you have a favorite candy? If so, why do you like it best?

What do you think would have happened to Reckless if the military had not adopted her?

The U.S. soldiers awoke to their outpost being shelled. Explain if you think a surprise attack like that could happen today.

Reckless would watch the soldiers play cards. Do you like to play card games and if so, what are they? Explain.

How did the author/illustrator show how the soldiers in Reckless’s regiment felt about her? Explain.

There was a signpost outside the tents with the names of cities and miles listed on the arrows. Why do you think the soldiers erected this? What do you think of it?

Reckless won several medals. Have you won or earned any medals/awards? If so, what are they, and how important are they to you?

What makes someone a hero? Explain. Do you know someone you think is a hero? If so, describe them.

Do you know anyone in the military today or someone who has served? Do they talk about their experiences? Explain.

No war has been fought on U.S. soil since the Civil War. Describe how your life would be affected if you lived in a war torn country.

Some of the marines saluted Reckless at the end of the Battle of Outpost Vegas. What did that gesture mean? Do you think Reckless merited it? Explain.

The illustrator often placed text on pieces of equipment or items from the story, such as a playing card, the ammunition box, a photo album, the clothesline, a clipboard, and the first aid kit lid. What did you think of this method of illustrations interacting with the text? Explain.

The author’s last sentences are – “Her story is a testament to the mysterious bond between humans and animals and proof of the Marine motto; Semper Fidelis. Ever faithful. Explain what the author means.

Book Talk Teasers:

Read the Readers Theater.

Discuss what is a hero and ask if an animal can be one.

Read Alikes:

Books to movies, First person narratives, Historical fiction, Stories told by animals, War stories

Morpurgo, Michael. War horse. Joey the horse recalls his experiences growing up on an English farm, his struggle for survival as a cavalry horse during World War I, and his reunion with his beloved master. (NoveList K-8)

Books to movies, Classics, Stories told by animals

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty: the autobiography of a horse. Originally published in 1877, this classic story, told from the animal’s perspective, captures the struggles and triumphs of this magnificent creature from his early days as a free colt to an owned creature poorly treated by evil men. (NoveList K-8)

Realistic fiction

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Paint the wind. After her overprotective grandmother has a stroke, Maya, an orphan, leaves her extremely restricted life in California to stay with her mother’s family on a remote Wyoming ranch, where she discovers a love of horses and encounters a wild mare that her mother once rode. (NoveList K-8)

History books

Streissguth, Thomas. The Korean War. Offers an overview of the Korean War, including how it began, the invasion of South Korea, important battles, how it ended, and the truce that followed. (NoveList K-8)

Military

Hamilton, John. United States Marine Corps. The USMC is both a part of the US Navy and a separate branch of America’s armed forces. This book details the history, training and current missions of the Corps. (NoveList K-8)

Souter, Gerry. Military rifles: fierce firepower. Describes the evolution of the military rifle and examines modern rifles, including the M16, the M4, and various sniper rifles. (NoveList K-8)

Animal books, Career books

Bedell, J. M. (Jane M.). So, you want to work with animals?: discover fantastic ways to work with animals, from veterinary science to aquatic biology. “In the tenth installment of the BE WHAT YOU WANT series, So, You Want to Work With Animals? introduces readers to the diverse fields that work hands-on with animals of all shapes, sizes, and species. From what classes to take in school to exploring what these jobs are really like–the fun stuff, the hard stuff, and even the gross stuff, this book reveals the steps it takes to pursue a childhood dream.”–. (NoveList K-8)

Animal books, Biographies, Narrative nonfiction for kids and teens, Picture books for children

Bowman, Donna Janell. Step right up: how Doc and Jim Key taught the world about kindness. “A picture book biography of Dr. William Key, a former slave and self-trained veterinarian who taught his horse, Jim, to read and write and who together with Jim became one of the most famous traveling performance acts around the turn of the twentieth century.”–. (NoveList K-8)

Animal books, Military

Grayson, Robert. Military. Describes animals, including elephants, dogs, horses, mules, sea lions, dolphins, rats, and homing pigeons, which provide valuable service to the military–Provided by publisher. (NoveList K-8)

Reviews:

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

by Patricia McCormick; illus. by Iacopo Bruno Primary Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins 40 pp. 9/17 978-0-06-229259-9 $17.99
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 of predominantly 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
From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc.,www.hbook.com

McCormick, Patricia.  Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero. Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2017. Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21)
Grades 2-4. With every war comes stories of heroism, and often those heroes are animals. In this case, it’s a little sorrel mare used to haul heavy ammunition by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War. The ammo, for the new “reckless” rifle, proved too heavy for soldiers, so Lt. Eric Pedersen set out to find a mule and instead found a small, hungry horse. Though the marines had doubts about her ability to haul the heavy loads, they dubbed her Private Reckless and began her training. It quickly became apparent that not only did Reckless have a large heart, she’d also consume anything—including chocolate, Coca-Cola, and poker chips. Fears that Reckless would prove skittish in battle proved unfounded, and she soon became a valuable soldier, persevering in battles that would determine the course of the war. Eventually, Reckless was promoted to sergeant, making her the only animal to hold military rank, and was granted two Purple Hearts at the end of the war. McCormick (The Plot to Kill Hitler, 2016) offers up her first picture book, and it’s a rousing success; the Korean War is covered less frequently than its Vietnam and World War counterparts, and there’s plenty of fascinating information here. If that weren’t enough, Bruno’s bold pencil illustrations range from endearing depictions of the inquisitive (and perpetually hungry) Reckless to somber battle scenes. An engaging slice of history.  Used with the permission of Booklist  https://www.booklistonline.com/

McCormick, Patricia.  Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero. Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2017.
School Library Journal (August 1, 2017)
Gr 1-5-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 © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal , 2017.

McCormick, Patricia.  Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero. Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2017.
School Library Journal (August 1, 2017)
Gr 1-5-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 © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal , 2017.

McCormick, Patricia.  Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero. Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2017.
Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21)
Grades 2-4. With every war comes stories of heroism, and often those heroes are animals. In this case, it’s a little sorrel mare used to haul heavy ammunition by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War. The ammo, for the new “reckless” rifle, proved too heavy for soldiers, so Lt. Eric Pedersen set out to find a mule and instead found a small, hungry horse. Though the marines had doubts about her ability to haul the heavy loads, they dubbed her Private Reckless and began her training. It quickly became apparent that not only did Reckless have a large heart, she’d also consume anything—including chocolate, Coca-Cola, and poker chips. Fears that Reckless would prove skittish in battle proved unfounded, and she soon became a valuable soldier, persevering in battles that would determine the course of the war. Eventually, Reckless was promoted to sergeant, making her the only animal to hold military rank, and was granted two Purple Hearts at the end of the war. McCormick (The Plot to Kill Hitler, 2016) offers up her first picture book, and it’s a rousing success; the Korean War is covered less frequently than its Vietnam and World War counterparts, and there’s plenty of fascinating information here. If that weren’t enough, Bruno’s bold pencil illustrations range from endearing depictions of the inquisitive (and perpetually hungry) Reckless to somber battle scenes. An engaging slice of history.  Used with the permission of Booklist https://www.booklistonline.com/

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