cover image JOHN AND TOM


Willem Lange, William Lange, , illus. by Bert Dodson. . Vermont Folklife, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-916718-17-6

This addition to the Family Heritage Series once again highlights a true tale of north-country life. John, a young logger, and Tom, his dependable Morgan horse, ply their trade in the woods near their home. One cold day, while John is working, an errant tree pins his foot in the snow. "John often said that Tom was the smartest horse in the world" and it's his four-footed companion who saves him from a chilly demise. Tom chews through his tether to reach his master, follows a series of voice commands to haul the fallen tree away, and ferries John safely home to his worried parents. Lange (Tales from the Edge of the Woods) relates this ultimately uplifting tale with all the sturdy simplicity of a wintry Vermont landscape, while Dodson's (Buffalo Thunder) judicious use of color in his spare watercolors (the red of John's jacket against the snow, for instance) and a tight focus on the action heighten the drama. This book—and this series as a whole—preserves the memories of a bygone way of life. A brief afterword expands on the tale's origins and suggests ways for readers to collect and archive their own family's animal tales. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)