Monday, October 5, 2015

Tucky Jo and Little Heart


Tucky Jo and Little Heart
By Patricia Polacco
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015. Picture Book.

Based on a true account, this picture book conveys the story of Johnnie Wallen, as shared with the author. Lying about his age—he was only 15—in order to enlist in the army during WWII, Johnnie became known as “the kid” to his unit but when he proved himself as a marksman the nickname “Kentucky Kid” became a badge of honor. While fighting in the Philippines, he was bombarded by bugs and suffering from welts left by the bites. While out on patrol one day, he saw a village in the distance, and a little girl appeared. She showed him plant leaves that were like medicine to his bites, providing instant relief. He thanked her with chocolate but she would not speak. The girl had a heart shape birthmark on her arm so he called her “Little Heart”; she called him “Tucky Jo” after he introduced himself as Kentucky Johnnie. Over the weeks he would meet her by the river and give her part of his K rations and try to make her laugh. When he told his unit about the village, which was suffering because the enemy had taken away their men, supplies, and fishing nets, they helped out as well. Then one day the enemy returned to the area and attacked the village; Tucky Jo, with permission from his leaders and help from his troops, helped evacuate the village—and that was the last he ever saw of Little Heart.

This heart-warming story shows how even in times of war a little kindness goes a long way, as well as showing how Little Heart’s small act of kindness led to her village being saved and how helping Little Heart and her village brought peace to Tucky Jo’s heart and gave him the perspective to continuing fighting, as he realized he was fighting for children everywhere like Little Heart.

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