Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse

by Emily Arnold McCully

In the late nineteenth century, a horse named Jim Key made headlines for his ability... read more

In the late nineteenth century, a horse named Jim Key made headlines for his ability to do math, identify colors, read, and spell. Just as astonishing—or unbelievable—to some was that Jim Key had been trained by a Black man. Bill “Doc” Key had a gift for working with animals and his approach had always emphasized kindness over cruelty. Emily Arnold McCully focuses on Doc’s love for animals and the close bond he had with Jim, who’d been born with twisted legs and a playful nature, in this captivating picture book history. Doc and Jim performed at fairs and carnivals and their achievements were met with amazement and appreciation, followed by skepticism. To counter the skeptics and the prejudice they faced, Doc invited a group of Harvard professors to test Jim, and newspapers carried the result of their conclusions: “Jim Key Educated by Kindness.” McCully’s author’s note provides additional background information on Doc and Jim (including a photo of the two) and addresses questions that still remain about how animal intelligence is defined and determined. (Ages 5–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

show less