Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse by Emily Arnold McCully


Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World’s Smartest Horse

McCully, Emily Arnold.  New York: Henry, Holt and Company, 2010.  9780805087932

Quantitative Reading Level:  Reading Level 3.9, Lexile 690, Fountas and Pinnell P

Qualitative Reading Analysis:

I would rate this as Middle Low on the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Literary Text”.  Although the text itself is straightforward and has a single layer of meaning, because it is set in the late 1860s and early 1870s readers would benefit from having some background knowledge into that time period.

Bill Key was born a slave and always had a way with animals.  After the Civil War he became a veterinarian and tried to spread the word that treating animals with kindness was better than cruelty.  He once bought an Arabian mare named Lauretta.  Unfortunately, Lauretta died while giving birth to a foal, Jim, who had twisted legs.  Although others might have given up on Jim, Bill did not.  In fact, he taught Jim to recognize letters, colors, and even do math.  People were astounded and some were skeptical.  Bill travelled with Jim and used their show to encourage people to be kind to animals.

Content Area: Reading/ELA

Content area standard:  

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.9 Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.

Curriculum Suggestions:

Children are fascinated with amazing animal tricks or records.  This book could be a mentor text that leads to more research or just plain reading about amazing animals.
Children could look at the author’s bibliography and find out more about this horse.

They could also compare and contrast the different texts about this horse.

Author’s Website: http://www.emilyarnoldmccully.com/

Personal Thoughts:  This was an interesting book.  I had never heard of this horse before.  I appreciate the author’s bibliography and note which add to the credibility of the story.  

Subjects/Themes: Power of Kindness

High Interest Annotation:  Jim, the Wonder Horse could recognize letters, colors, and even do math.

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