That Book Woman

Illustrated by: David Small
For Ages: 4 - 8
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Cal is not the readin' type. Living way high up in the Appalachian Mountains, he'd rather help Pap plow or go out after wandering sheep than try some book learning. Nope. Cal does not want to sit stoney-still reading some chicken scratch. But that Book Woman keeps coming just the same. She comes in the rain. She comes in the snow. She comes right up the side of the mountain, and Cal knows that's not easy riding. And all just to lend his sister some books. Why, that woman must be plain foolish -- or is she braver than he ever thought?

That Book Woman is a rare and moving tale that honors a special part of American history -- the Pack Horse Librarians, who helped untold numbers of children see the stories amid the chicken scratch, and thus made them into lifetime readers.
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  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 40 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416908128 | 
  • October 2008 | 
  • Grades P - 3
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Author Heather Henson Reveals Her Previous Occupations

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Reading Group Guide

THAT BOOK WOMAN
By Heather Henson
Illustrated by David Small
ABOUT THIS BOOK
High up on a mountain, right near the tippy-top, Cal and his family squeak out a living with their farm. There's no time for visiting or reading or learning, and that suits Cal just fine. But then a woman starts coming around with loads of books for borrowing, and Cal has to wonder if there's something to this reading after all.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What does Cal think about school and learning? Does it help the family survive on their mountain? How does Cal feel when Lark reads or tries to teach others?
Why is it so strange for the family to see a woman ride up with the books? Is there anything that would make a woman better for this job than a man?
Why is Cal so angry when his father offers up the poke of berries in exchange for the books? Does he change his mind about giving the book woman something in exchange for her work?
The book woman accepts very little from the people that she visits -- she won't take payment for the books or shelter from the storms. Why? Why do you think the families keep trying to give her things?
What makes Cal decide to learn to read? Why would it have been hard for him to ask Lark to teach him?
Describe how Cal's face looks in the beginning of the book, when he talks about reading, and when the book woman first starts coming around. Does the expression on his face change as the story conti see more

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Author Revealed

Heather Henson
Q. how did you come to write That Book Woman?

A. I found an old black and white photograph of a woman on horseback carrying books up a mountain in her saddlebag. I was hooked. I wanted to find out more about "that book woman."

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