KATE SHELLEY: Bound
by Robert D. San Souci
Illustrated by Max Ginsburg
Dial Books for Young Readers, (September) 1995
[Ages 5-10] hardcover
Trade: ISBN 0-8037-1289-8 $14.99
Library: ISBN 0-8037-1290-1 (14.98)
30 Full-color illustrations (oil)
8 7/16 x 10 1/2
This unforgettable portrait of American heroine Kate Shelley combines a vivid narration by award-winning writer Robert D. San Souci with heart-stopping paintings by master realist Max Ginsburg, making his picturebook debut.
Once in a while an ordinary person performs a deed so brave and unexpected that we remember it long afterward. Kate Shelley was such a person. In 1881 this Iowa teenager risked her life to save the survivors of a terrible train wreck and warn an oncoming train of the danger ahead. Her courage and humanity made her a legend in her time -- and still resonate for us today.
Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. In this picture book for older readers, San Souci reconstructs a slice of history. After the railroad bridge near her home collapsed during a summer storm in 1881, 15-year-old Kate Shelley walked to the nearest railroad station to make sure the passenger train from Chicago would be stopped before it reached the broken bridge. To get to the station, she had to crawl across a 700-foot-long railroad bridge, with a raging river below. The train had been stopped by railroad officials before she arrived, but her courageous efforts still saved two lives and won her a national reputation. Along with dramatic descriptions, San Souci presents a convincing portrait of Kate's personality, depicting her as a strong, supportive part of her family long before that summer's night. Ginsburg's realistic oil paintings of the storm and the bridge crossing are particularly effective. Mary Harris Veeder
From Horn Book
Illustrated by Max Ginsburg. Growing up in rural Iowa near the turn of the twentieth century, Kate Shelley seemed an ordinary teenager who willingly shouldered the responsibility of caring for her siblings when her mother's health failed. Her avid interest in the railroad that ran behind her house was, perhaps, a bit unusual for a girl in that period, but nothing in her life predicted her future heroism. Her moment of fame came when a terrible storm took out the railroad bridge near her home and she courageously walked miles in the deluge and darkness - at one point crawling on hands and knees across a seven-hundred-foot-long cross-tie bridge - to warn the railroad company. The paintings that illustrate the eventful night are dark with the fury of the storm, but the artist uses appropriate areas of light to make the details clear. Tension and fear are clearly evident in all the characters' postures and facial expressions and build until the moment of relief when Kate finally arrives at the station. Kate's life after the incident is sketched at the end of the book, and an author's note provides source information. The book is easily accessible to the primary reader and will be a welcome addition to both school and public library collections.
Robert D. San Souci's acclaimed books include THE TALKING EGGS, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Dial), a Caldecott Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Max Ginsburg, the illustrator of Mildred D. Taylor's THE FRIENDSHIP and MISSISSIPPI BRIDGE (both Dial), lives in New York City.