Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

That Book Woman

That Book Woman

Heather Henson
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Atheneum, 2008   ISBN: 978-1416908128

Cal is the oldest boy in his family and he helps his father with the chores. Cal's family live in such an isolated place that it is hard for the children to go to school, but this does not stop Cal's sister Lark from trying to "school" her brothers and sisters on her own. Lark loves book and Cal cannot understand why she wastes so much of her time "a-staring at some chicken scratch" on a page. He has no interest learning or book reading.

When a lady comes to the house and says that Lark can borrow some books from her, Lark is over the moon and Cal is mystified. Why does this woman ride so far just to bring books to his family? Every two weeks in fog, rain, snow, and wind, the "Book Woman" is there.

In this powerful book, Heather Henson's lyrical prose is beautifully complimented by David Small's lovely illustrations. Readers will learn about the Pack Horse Librarians, or Book Women, who traveled to remote areas in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930's to give rural families books to read. They brought "the outside world to the people of Appalachia," and they helped people of all ages to see that great things lie inside the covers of books.

A delight to read and to look at, this is a picture book that serves as a tribute to the Book Women and to librarians of all kinds.