Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero

by Patricia McCormick (Author) Iacopo Bruno (Illustrator)

Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

The inspiring true story of Reckless, the brave little horse who became a Marine. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 4 to 6. It's a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children.

When a group of US Marines fighting in the Korean War found a bedraggled mare, they wondered if she could be trained to as a packhorse. They had no idea that the skinny, underfed horse had one of the biggest and bravest hearts they'd ever known. And one of the biggest appetites!

Soon Reckless 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 ever to officially hold military rank--becoming Sgt. Reckless--and receive two Purple Hearts.

This is the first picture book from award-winning novelist Patricia McCormick, sumptuously illustrated by acclaimed artist Iacopo Bruno.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Bruno's stylized realism vividly brings to life the story of Sergeant Reckless, the only animal to officially hold military rank in the United States. Starving and abandoned during the Korean War, the former racehorse was discovered by U.S. Marines serving overseas and pressed into service to carry ammunition for a cannon dubbed the "reckless" rifle. More than a pack animal, the small mare who would eat anything (chocolate, Coca-Cola, blankets, poker chips) made herself at home among her new family: "After she figured out which bunk belonged to the cook, she'd clip-clop into his tent at daybreak and lick his face until he woke up and served her breakfast." Spreads heavy with green and brown camouflage hues depict the Marines training and doting on their charge, while poignant close-ups show Reckless nuzzling soldiers' faces, training, and performing bravely in battle. In an author's note, McCormick (The Plot to Kill Hitler) rounds out the story with details of Reckless's life in Korea both before the conflict and post "retirement." This endearing story of wartime camaraderie won't soon be forgotten. Ages 6-10. Author's agent: Heather Schroder, Compass Talent. (Sept.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-5--At the height of the Korean conflict, a young racehorse was abandoned and left hungry at a racetrack. Around the same time, a nearby U.S. Marine unit was exhausted from lugging heavy ammunition uphill during their battles. While a mule would have been preferable, Sergeant Pederson trained that once-abandoned horse to carry the ammunition for the Marines--and what followed is a remarkable story. Named Reckless, she carried herself with aplomb under the roughest of combat conditions, in one battle she made 51 trips and carried 9,000-pounds of ammunition. Meanwhile she ate everything and anything, waking up the company cook to get her breakfast. Reckless would eventually attain the rank of Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. McCormick's narrative is excellent and Brunos's bold illustrations contribute to the story as much as the text. The work concludes with a synopsis of Reckless's retirement in the United States. While Melissa Higgins's Sgt. Reckless the War Horse: Korean War Hero is a suitable title, McCormick's is more exciting. VERDICT This well-illustrated war story will appeal to many, especially fans of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse. A strong selection.--Margaret Nunes, Gwinnett County Public Library, GA

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Praise for THE PLOT TO KILL HITLER: "Offers a lucid history of the rise of Nazi Germany and a dramatic account of one man's resistance to evil."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Publication date
September 20, 2017
Texas Bluebonnet Award
Winner 2018 - 2019

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!