August 31 – Pony Express Day

Happy Pony Express Day!

Express your appreciation for the brave horsemen who delivered mail in the old west by sharing some modern day picture books with your child.

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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express written by Eleanor Coerr and illustrated by Don Bolognese (1996)

64 page beginning chapter book with full illustrations on every spread

The story of Buffalo Bill as a Pony Express Rider is told in 4 easy to read chapters. At fifteen years old, Bill applied for a job delivering mail across the west from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. He had to ride almost two thousand miles in ten days. Bill’s first ride was twice as long as it should have been, because the second rider was ill and Bill had to take his horse to the second station. He escaped an Indian attack along the way and when he got there, he was too tired to tell his story. He fell asleep at the dinner table. On his return trip home, he was attacked by wolves. Bill became one of the best riders on the pony express. He was well known by everybody along the trail. Even Chief Rain-in-the-Face knew Bill. Bill had gone to school with the Sioux Chief’s sons. They had taught him sign language and the ways of the Sioux Indians. Once when Bill had to deliver a great amount of money, he heard about Terrible Tod and his gang of outlaws who were out to rob him. Chief Rain-in-the-Face gave Bill a great idea. Bill made a straw man dressed in his uniform, strapped it to his horse, and followed behind with the Sheriff and his men. When Terrible Tod jumped out of his hiding place and attacked the straw man, Bill and Sheriff were right behind him to capture Terrible Tod and his gang. Bill rode on and delivered the money safely. Bill Cody was a hero.

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You Wouldn’t Want to be a Pony Express Rider! written by Tom Ratliff and illustrated by Mark Bergin (2012)

Cartoon pictures entertain readers as they learn about the pony express. Each page spread discusses a topic related to the pony express from what it is to the end of the ¬†operation. Everything from how boys and men signed up to be riders on the pony express, to an explanation of the mail service at the time, and what life was like on the trail is presented in easy and fun to read snippets of information. For example, did you know that the only complete map of the Pony Express route wasn’t drawn until five years after the company was shut down? The mission of the Pony Express was tested when after Lincoln’s election to president, some southern sympathizers wanted to intercept riders carrying the election results to California. It was finally ended when the Overland Stage Company (later known as Wells Fargo) was awarded the government’s favor for mail delivery and Samuel Morse’s telegraph system was completed.

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Whatever Happened to the Pony Express? written by Verla Kay and illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root and Barry Root (2010)

Written in verse, this simple story tells about the short-lived history of the pony express. Throughout the book letters and telegrams are exchanged between a brother in California and his sister in Pennsylvania. News of their growing families and troubles is delivered by pony express, telegraph, and train.

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