Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4
During the Korean War, American Marines in Korea want a mule to carry their heavy new cannon, the “reckless” rifle. When all they can find is a scrawny little chestnut mare, they decide to try her out and name her after the gun; as one man trains her up for battle, she endears herself to the unit (“Reckless was one of the guys”). She turns out to be a stalwart in action, most notably at the Battle of Outpost Vegas, where her work earns her the battlefield rank of corporal (a post-war promotion made her a sergeant). Author and journalist McCormick tells this true story in swift and readable prose, with some amusing detail about Reckless’ prodigious appetite adding character. The backstory and timeline are a little confusing (the [End Page 27] opening suggests she was found abandoned while the closing note states she was purchased from an owner), but the focus here is more on the story of her exploits rather than biographical stats. While army drab dulls the palette of Bruno’s pencil and digital art, the colorway gives the visuals some period flavor, which is enhanced by reproductions of military realia and wartime details (including a M*A*S*H hattip). Kids not quite ready for Bausum’s Stubby the War Dog (BCCB 9/14) will find this a lively look at wartime animal heroism. An author’s note gives more detail, including the fact that she was able to interview the regiment’s cook for the book; a brief bibliography and photo of Reckless are included.