One of my favorite YA novels is Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan (drawings by Brian Selznick). The story lingers with me. I love historical narrative. I’m fascinated with stories of people who triumph over difficulties. I’m encouraged. I was thrilled to find a picture book about the character in Rough, Tough Charley by Verla Kay.
In Riding Freedom, a young orphaned girl escapes and survives looking like a boy. She, Charley, is a horse-whisperer and survives by living in a livery stable. Eventually, Charley learns to drive a stage-coach and becomes an expert driver.
When I saw Rough, Tough, Charley at the library, I knew the picture book would be about the same character. Verla Kay recreated the narrative through poetic stanzas. The text form is not what I expected a delightful change. Adam Gustavson recreates the western setting brilliantly with his paintings, adding to the mood.
I highly recommend reading this book and using it to build background knowledge on the pioneer west, women’s rights, and poetry verse structure.
In the back, a timeline is shared with a short synopsis of important events in Charley’s life. I learned more about the character ad now am comparing/contrasting to the novel’s portrayal.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Rough, Tough Charley:
- Biography – great way to show how genres and forms can be mingled
- Poetic narrative – I like the short conversation integrated in the text.
- Background Knowledge – women’s rights (Charley voted when women could not.)
- Word Choice
- Inference – lots of discussion around the character, Charley
Warsaw Community Public Library new book