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Mary on Horseback

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About the Author

Rosemary Wells (rosemarywells.com) is the author of 120 books for children, including more than 40 about the beloved bunnies, Max and Ruby, who star in their own television show on Nick, Jr. She travels all over the country as a tireless advocate for literacy. Wells was born in New Jersey to a playwright father and ballet dancer mother who encouraged her artistic bent. She worked as an art director and designer before illustrating her first book. She is the mother of two grown daughters, Victoria and Marguerite, and grandmother to four girls.


Gr 2-5-The practice of modern medicine was practically nonexistent in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky in the 1920s. Diphtheria, typhoid, and small pox ravaged the mountain dwellers' lives. Mary Breckinridge, herself a widow whose children had also died, decided to change things. This pioneering nurse-midwife who founded the Frontier Nursing Service is introduced through the eyes of three fictional characters whose lives are irrevocably changed by their encounters with her. Young John nearly faints at his first sight of a needle and syringe that are used to treat his injured father. Miss Ireland, an 18-year-old nurse from Scotland, braves the mountain wilderness at night to inoculate a young child. Pearl, her mamma's "ownliest sugarplum" retreats into a world of silence upon her mother's death until she is loved out of it by Mary and her nurses. Though each story is brief, Wells's realistic yet poetic prose perfectly captures the dichotomy of the majestic beauty of Appalachia and the harsh realities of mountain life. McCarty's evocative illustrations, based on photographs taken for the Frontier Nursing Service, are an ideal complement to the text. An afterword provides a brief biography of Breckinridge and information on the Frontier Nursing Service. This one's a gem.-Peggy Morgan, The Library Network, Southgate, MI

Praise for Mary On Horseback "Wells's realistic yet poetic prose perfectly captures the dichotomy of the majestic beauty of Appalachia and the harsh realities of mountain life. . . . This one's a gem."--School Library Journal "Wells's careful attention to the details and hardships of mountain living authenticates these achingly real accounts, as she spells out both the enormity of Breckenridge's challenge and the triumph of even the smallest victories. McCarty's finely crafted drawings, based on actual photographs, add to the historical accuracy and elegance of the volume."--Publishers Weekly "Wells has proved herself an outstanding creator of picture books. Here, she shows her versatility as she brings creativity and word mastery into a longer work. This is a fabulous family read aloud."--Children's Literature

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