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The Book Shelf – Feb. 21

Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire,
By Claudia Friddell,
32 pages.
@ SPL: J 97526043 Fri

The Great Baltimore Fire, in February 1904, was one of the most destructive in North American history.

Starting in a dry goods warehouse, it spread quickly and was soon out of control. Hundreds of firemen, policemen, soldiers and citizens battled the flames for three days and nights. By the time the fire was over, 140 acres and 2,500 businesses were destroyed. Miraculously, no lives were lost.

However, many lives would definitely have been lost in the disaster if not for a massive Percheron named “Goliath,” a “fire horse” with Engine Company #15.

Earlier in the day, firemen had noticed that the horse seemed strangely restless. Could he sense something?

When the alarm rang, the firemen and fire horses were on their way in seconds.

Soon after arriving at the fire, a huge explosion ripped through the warehouse. A large group of firemen found themselves trapped on a narrow, dead-end street by the resulting inferno. It was only the massive strength of Goliath, who dragged the fire wagon out of the street to safety, which saved the firemen and the other horses from a horrible death.

The fire jumped from rooftop to rooftop and spread throughout the city. Despite serious burns and other injuries, Goliath stayed and fought the flames for 55 long hours without rest. Not until the fire had burned itself out did he stop.

Six long months of recovery followed before Goliath could return to fight more fires.

Two years later, the City of Baltimore held a parade to celebrate their newly rebuilt city, led by Goliath, a hero. Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer this courageous horse which had saved so many lives.

Before he died at the age of 20 years, Goliath led many more parades in Baltimore – and helped to fight many more fires.

This exciting, true story of dedication and courage in the face of danger is very nicely enhanced by the large, colourful illustrations of artist Troy Howell.

** Recommended for ages five to eight.

Molly the Pony: A True Story,
By Pam Kaster,
48 pages.
@ SPL: JE Kaste

Pam Kaster’s new book relates the true story of a little pony, Molly, who showed courage and resilience in an entirely different way than Goliath.

Abandoned during Hurricane Katrina, Molly was trapped for two long weeks in a barn before being rescued and taken to a new home on a horse farm.

Her troubles, however, weren’t over. One day, she was attacked by a large dog and one of her front legs was so badly injured that it had to be amputated.

At the animal hospital, the veterinarians decided to try a surgery which is rarely attempted on a horse or pony.  Because they thought that Molly was up to the challenge, they decided to fit the little pony with a prosthetic leg and foot.

Molly had difficulty walking on her new leg at first, but after weeks of practicing hard, she was able to trot around the farm quite easily.

Then Molly was given an important job. She became a therapy pony,  making regular visits to a children’s hospital and a retirement home where she cheered and inspired both young and old with her quiet presence, allowing people to pet her and touch her prosthetic leg.

Molly’s touching story of survival, perseverance and friendship has been adapted for beginning readers in this “easy reader,” complete with lots of photos.  A wonderful story for a child and an adult to share, it would be an especially good choice for a child who is facing a serious adversity in his or her life.

** Recommended for ages five to eight.

– Sally Hengeveld, librarian

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