You may know Rosemary Wells from her well-known picture books about Max and Ruby, but she has also written and illustrated dozens of other books, both fiction and non-fiction. Mary on Horseback is one of her better known non-fiction books.
Mary Breckinridge became a nurse during World War I, but she was not content to work in a large city hospital when she returned to the United States. Instead she headed for the hills of Kentucky in the early 1920s, determined to bring modern medicine to the Appalachian Mountains. Doctors were scarce and vaccines even more so. But with determination and kindness, she established the Frontier Nursing Service and helped save hundreds of lives.
Mary on Horseback is written in three short separate stories:
- John Hawkin’s father has crushed his leg in a work accident. Amputation seems like the only option — until Mary Breckinridge arrives.
- Maggie, a nurse and recent immigrant, has the daunting task of helping Mary stamp out diphtheria in Kentucky.
- Pearl’s mother died in childbirth. Can the nurses help Pearl learn to care for her infant, twin siblings and also find a better future for herself and her family?
Mary’s a true hero you’ve probably never heard of before! It seems that a few historical figures get all the press, so it’s lovely to find a book about someone more obscure, but who really made a difference.
Early Middle Grade Reading Level, 64 pages, Published in 1998.