Sergeant Reckless, the True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero


Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection features a little known story of courage, respect, and friendship.  The heartfelt text and superb illustrations make an interesting bit of history come alive. It’s a great pick to kick off any summer reading program!

y648Title: Sergeant Reckless, the True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero

Written by: Patricia McCormick

Illustrated by: Iacopo Bruno

Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins, 2017, nonfiction, 40 pp.

Suitable for ages: 6-10

Themes/topics: Korean War, animal heroes, courage

The small red mare whinnied for her supper. But Korea was at war. Towns were shattered. Fields were scorched. And the racetrack was abandoned. No one paid attention to the hungry little horse.

Brief synopsis (from book jacket)
When a group of US Marines fighting in the Korean War found a bedraggled mare, they wondered if she could be trained to as a packhorse. They had no idea that the skinny, underfed horse had one of the biggest and bravest hearts they’d ever known. And one of the biggest appetites!

Soon Reckless showed herself more than willing to carry ammunition too heavy for the soldiers to haul. As cannons thundered and shells flew through the air, she marched into battle—again and again—becoming the only animal ever to officially hold military rank—becoming Sgt. Reckless—and receive two Purple Hearts.

Activities and Resources:
Compare and contrast the stories of other animal heroes.

Educator’s Guide 

Why I like this book:
This fascinating story of the bond between humans and an animal takes place during a war that we see very little of in children’s literature. The seemingly useless, pitiful horse finds a place and a purpose in the world, heroically serving the men who care for her. With a balance of seriousness and humor, the author relates a tale of potential, trust, and mutual respect.

I’m a HUGE fan of Iacopo Bruno, and once again, he doesn’t disappoint. The amazing illustrations include creative use of facsimiles of actual documents, placing the text within the context of such items as a newspaper, an army manual, a label.

Here’s a blog post on Librarian’s Quest

Visit author Patricia McCormick HERE.


Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

5 thoughts on “Sergeant Reckless, the True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero

  1. You had me with the cover. Animals are so loyal, I hope it isn’t a tear jerker (but I want to read to find out!)


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