William "Doc" Key had a special way with animals. Growing up enslaved in Tennessee, Doc was sent to plantations around the state to care for sick and wounded animals. When the Civil War ended and Doc was freed, he began to dream of breeding a winning racehorse.Read more...
William "Doc" Key had a special way with animals. Growing up enslaved in Tennessee, Doc was sent to plantations around the state to care for sick and wounded animals. When the Civil War ended and Doc was freed, he began to dream of breeding a winning racehorse. But those dreams were dashed when his colt was born weak and sickly. Although many people would have euthanized the colt, Doc nursed him back to health and named him Jim.
Noticing a level of curiosity and eagerness in the horse, Doc began teaching Beautiful Jim Key first to recognize letters, then to read, write, add, subtract, and more. Doc soon took his talented horse on the road, spreading a message of patience and kindness, over cruelty, to all animals.
With striking illustrations by Daniel Minter, Step Right Up is the inspiring story of one man and one horse who showed the world the power of kindness.
This biography explores Common Core English Language Arts Standards and Social Studies Standards.
- ISBN-13: 9781620141489
- ISBN-10: 1620141485
- Publisher: Lee & Low Books
- Publish Date: August 2016
- Page Count: 48
- Reading Level: Ages 7-12
- Dimensions: 10.8 x 9.3 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-15
- Reviewer: Staff
Born into slavery, William “Doc” Key drew national attention at the end of the 19th century for his training of a purebred Arabian horse, eventually known as Beautiful Jim Key, teaching the animal how to “combine letters to spell words, choose numbers to make sums, find flags to identify states, move clock hands to tell time, and a whole lot more.” Themes of racial injustice and the harsh treatment of animals offer a poignant supplement to the main narrative (“Kindness, kindness, and more kindness, that’s the way,” was how Doc Key described his success with Jim), which has another sturdy complement in Minter’s (Ellen’s Broom) bold linoleum block prints. Though debut author Bowman focuses on Doc’s relationship with Jim, a substantial afterword will leave children eager to learn more about Doc Key’s remarkable life, including his reluctant service work with Confederate forces during the Civil War and his efforts to free the enslaved. Ages 7–12. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Sept.)