Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse who became a Hero

Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse who became a Hero Written by Patricia McCormick and Iacopo Bruno

Publisher’s Summary:
When a group of U.S. Marines fighting in the Korean War found a bedraggled little mare, they wondered if she could be trained as a packhorse. They had no idea that the skinny, underfed horse had one of the biggest and bravest hearts they’d ever know. And one of the biggest appetites! Soon she 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 to ever officially hold military rank and receive two Purple Hearts.

Primary Source Pairing:
The story of Sergeant Reckless’ bravery and heroism is one we should continue to retell and remember. Through narrative nonfiction and incredible primary-source-infused illustrations, Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse who became a Hero will captivate readers for years to come. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a photograph of Sergeant Reckless herself with her handler and trainer US Marine Sergeant Joseph Latham. There are an abundance of primary source photographs available here. As an extension activity and as the learning environment allows, do a digital picture walk where students can visit the link above and choose an image to analyze independently and then share out their findings with the group. 

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • Make a connection to this photograph and something you read in the book.
  • Discuss adjectives to describe Sergeant Reckless. Use illustrations from the book or primary source photographs to support your word choice.

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Reckless with her main caretaker, US Marine Sergeant Joseph Latham, photograph: Wikimedia Commons
Sergeant Reckless photograph collection: Wikimedia Commons

Additional Primary Source Material:
Sgt Reckless – Korean War Horse Hero video:
Note: this video shows scenes of war with machine gun fire and explosions. Show at your discretion based on the maturity of the group of students.