Books that dive into history in a unique way are highly appreciated by this mom, who is constantly looking for new ways to interest my sweet girls in different things. When the Mattie Richardson’s Horses in History Series of books from young author Mattie Richardson came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read them. I had seen them previously but had not been able to get them at the time. Wow, have we been missing out!
Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books started writing these books when she was about 13. She has picked up a very interesting and unique way to look at different events in history with this series of books – from the perspective of the horses. What a fabulous outlook to take, especially when you consider her age as she started writing them. Well, since the first one, she hasn’t really stopped writing. Taking on the idea of how the horses might have seen different historical events was a stroke of genius.
There are 4 books in this series and we received each of them to read and review:
- Dusty’s Trail,
- Golden Sunrise, and
- Day and Night.
We also received the new ebook enrichment guide to go along with Day and Night.
Appaloosy – This book takes a look at the final freedom of the Nez Perce tribe. Storm is a beautiful Appaloosa with unique markings who belongs to the tribe. The story follows the attempt by the tribe to maintain their freedom from the desires of the white man. War breaks out in Idaho, disrupting the life of the stunning young stallion. We follow Storm through many different owners, including both horse thieves/rustlers and kind owners. As the story continues, we follow Storm’s struggle for freedom, both against owners and his own heart.
Miss J and I read this book out loud during the review period, reading a chapter a night together. It was an interesting story about a time that she did not know anything about. The history of the struggles of the Nez Perce tribe as seen through the eyes of the horse made it an event that wasn’t too hard to read. There are some situations that sensitive children might have a harder time with but they are very important to the history of the events. They are handled carefully and are well done, emphasizing just the right amount of the scare or concern or fright while allowing the proper influence on the story because horse thieving, fights, battles, hunger, and more are all a part of it. We enjoyed reading the story together and seeing it all play out from a bit safer of a view point – the horse.
Dusty’s Trail – The call of the newspaper ad is just too strong for the young boy and his horse. The Pony Express! What an adventure it would be. Against his mother’s wishes, young Levi takes off on his horse Dusty. Dusty tries to let Levi know that this isn’t the best plan but Levi wins out and they become part of The Pony Express. Amid attacks, heat, cold, missing relays, and more, the story of how The Pony Express worked through the eyes of Dusty is a joy.
Golden Sunrise – The palomino pony, Cheyenne, is at home on the ranch when Jared decides he just has to be a part of the changes occuring in Texas in the 1830s and 1840s. The Texas fight for independence was just too appealing to the young lad and so with his horse, they join up. Being a part of the war may just be more than Cheyenne bargained for, though as she learns about the war she knows it is a just cause. Right in the midst of it all, Cheyenne and Jared are part of the big battles and meet many of the people who came to be important in the history of it all.
Day and Night – The American Civil War was anything but civil, even for the horses. Two horse brothers, Tucker and Shiloh, are separated from each other as their lives diverge. One ends up on the side of the North and the other ends up on the side of the South. One ends up carrying a high ranking official. The other ends up carrying a boy, um – girl dressed like a boy who lied to be able to fight. From the border wars and the fights on the western front of the war, to the bloodiest battles fought, to protecting the lines and taking care of their riders, these horses saw it all and learned so much about the war that maybe we should learn from them.
Each of these stories is told from the horses’ point of view. Each is well told and highlights issues surrounding the events that might not be immediately obvious or the part that we have learned about in past history studies. These unique looks at the events of the stories will broaden the reader’s idea of what it is like to fight in a battle, seek freedom, work hard on a horse, ride for hours on end, or be a part of something bigger than themselves.
The Day and Night Enrichment Guide is a full-on unit study designed to help the reader get more out of the book. There are 8 parts to the guide, with all of the first seven following the same format. Each part contains
- reading comprehension – questions to help guide the reader’s understanding of the story
- vocabulary – words used within the story that might be new or unfamiliar to the reader; most are fill-in-the-blank activities with one matching activity
- a soldier’s life – designed to help the reader understand more about the different aspects of a soldier’s life, there is information on food, bugle calls, medicine, camp life, and more
- living history activity – these activities help bring to life the things that a soldier would have experienced, such as making butter, eating hardtack, or having johnnycakes; some of these include making a diorama or studying a reenactment
- geography – because geography was important to war, there is a study of the states involved in the story, landmarks of the battles, rivers, and other big picture ideas of the civil war
- horses and history – a look at the role of the horse in the civil war, including tack and equipment, purpose of the cavalry, breeds of horses, and more
- creating your own stories – working one element at a time, the reader begins to create their own stories
- biography – a look at an important person from the story
- further reading/advanced track – additional books to read to further develop understanding of the Civil War
Part 8 is the completion of the story the reader was writing and suggestions for field trips.
The enrichment guide can be used as is but it would be very easy to pick the pieces of it that fit your need or your family and use just those. In whole, it is a solid literature, history, and geography study, with writing included. In pieces, it will be a good supplement to the story. Either way, it is a recommended addition to the book.
While we have not yet used the enrichment guide, I am getting it printed out and into a binder so that we can use it in the spring for our history with Miss J, age 10. We will not
use the further reading section, but all the others will be interesting and really create a solid study of these battles in the Civil War.
I am excited about using these four books from Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books as the base for a history unit. These books are easy to read and chock full of the details of history that truly bring it to life.
Lori, At Home.
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