Friday, May 10, 2013
Mule Train Mail - Perfect Picture Book Friday
This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.
My pick this week is a reminder that writers don't always have to shoot for "high-concept." Sometimes, a nonfiction narrative is the perfect choice. Admittedly, it does help up the interest factor when the story is set in the awe-inspiring surroundings of the Grand Canyon.
Title: Mule Train Mail
Author/Illustrator: Craig Brown
Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2009
Themes: Culture, Jobs
Ages: 4-8 (but I think younger would enjoy it)
Synopsis: The author went along with the lead muleteer as he loaded the mail at the south rim of the Grand Canyon and delivered it to the town of Supai located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation at the bottom of the canyon. This is the only US postal route delivered by mules. The story uses the third person POV and recounts what it's like to make this delivery in the heat of summer and the icy cold of winter.
Opening: "Anthony the Postman doesn't wear a uniform.
He wears a cowboy hat, chaps and spurs."
A few summers ago, my family took the horse ride (not with the mules and the mail!) down the Grand Canyon and this book captures the feelings of those terrifying switchbacks. Every time the horse swayed, I was convinced I was going to be pitched over the edge of the trail into the abyss. It was an adrenaline packed journey. The author cleverly turned the book sideways on several spreads to give the reader a feeling for the height of the canyon walls. Mule Train Mail was a Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Book of the Year.
Activities: I didn't realize there was a National Postal Museum. But it's part of the Smithsonian. If you're in the neighborhood of Washington D.C. you can go visit: National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20002. If you can't get there, the museum has an online "activity zone" with a host of fun activities. My tiny local post office doesn't have a lot to look at, but a field trip to your local office is a possibility. Younger children may want to post a letter of their own and then draw a picture showing all the different modes of transportation it will take to reach its destination. Cowboys and cowgirls may be inspired to take a ride like Anthony (our local zoo offers pony rides).
Final note: Congratulations to Natalie Aguirre who won a copy of Debbie Dadey's newest chapter book, The Lost Princess. Just released May 7, the book is already on its way to her! Yeah, it's a "mail" link. I know how much I like to find something that isn't junk or bills in my mail.
What's the best thing you ever received in the mail?