Reviews for Mule Train Mail

Booklist Reviews 2009 August #1
Author/illustrator Brown used the anthropologist's tool of participant observation to capture the hardships and natural glories of the three-hour, eight-mile mule trek to a tiny village on the floor of the Grand Canyon that is performed every day by Anthony Paya, a U.S. Postal Service carrier. This intriguing book chronicles the last surviving mule train delivery in the U.S., beginning with Paya's pick-up of the mail at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, straight through the mule train's arduous descent on switchback trails, and ending in Supai, a Native American village. What gives this fascinating material extra punch are Brown's illustrations, done in pastel and colored pencils. The contrast between the unaffected renderings of Paya, his dog, and his seven mules and the looming golden sandstone walls of the canyon shows how living creatures are dwarfed by nature. Several double-page spreads are vertical, underscoring the heart-stopping nature of the descent. An Author's Note gives more background to Brown's journey. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
The book opens with postman Anthony at the top of the Grand Canyon loading mules with letters and packages. The landscape's yellows, browns, and rust colors radiate heat; the palette changes to whites and blues to convey the danger of driving rain and sleet. An author's note provides detail about the process and of Brown's own expedition with Supai letter carriers. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #5
Neither snow, nor sleet, nor rain, nor dark of night stops the mail. But what happens to its delivery when there are no roads? In the remote contemporary community of Supai, located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona at the base of the Grand Canyon, muleteers deliver the mail, working their way down the treacherous trails with a convoy of mules hauling letters, food, and packages. The book opens with Anthony the postman (he "doesn't wear a uniform. He wears a cowboy hat, chaps, and spurs") loading the mules at the top of the canyon. The yellows, browns, and rust colors of the landscape radiate the heat from the surrounding canyon; the palette changes to whites and blues to convey the danger of driving rain and sleet. Even in the close-up illustrations, the wide, open expanses of big sky country peek through the horizon, setting the panoramic scene. In vivid contrast to the opening and closing horizontal spreads, Brown depicts the winding trail vertically, adding to the drama of the trip and the potential danger to both men and beasts. An author's note provides details about the process as well as an account of Brown's own expedition with the Supai letter carriers. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 June #1
In some remote pockets of Arizona, the postman wears a cowboy hat and leads a mule train. The front endpaper illustration traces the mail route through the Grand Canyon. At the South Rim of the Canyon, boxes of mail are transferred from a Postal Service truck to the saddlepacks of Anthony the postman's six mules. He rides a horse and has an eager dog to help guide him along the zigzagging trail, full of sharp switchbacks. A succession of double-page spreads that need to be turned 90 degrees for proper viewing emphasizes the steep descent of the route. Deep mud, ice and flash floods make the trail treacherous, but never prevent Anthony from completing his route, which is narrated in a simple, concrete present tense. At length, the mule train reaches its destination, the village of Supai, tucked into a green valley, where Anthony unloads the mail and--because Supai is also Anthony's home--his family greets him. Brown's illustrations, in pastel and colored pencil, look appropriately sun-washed. Informative as well as evocative, and told with crisp clarity. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 August

PreS-Gr 2--In this engaging text, Brown relates the daily trip made by Anthony the Postman from the top of the Grand Canyon to the village of Supai far below on the canyon floor. Wearing "a cowboy hat, chaps, and spurs," he leads a train of mules carrying "letters and packages, along with groceries, water, clothes, and even computers" down the steep trail through all types of weather conditions, for "the mail must go through." An author's note gives additional details that children will appreciate, including the fact that it takes three hours to make the eight-mile trip from the south rim to the village, located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. He also describes the expedition he made with Anthony Paya, lead muleteer, to appreciate firsthand the journey and the rigors of the landscape. Brown's wonderful pastel and colored pencil illustrations are a testament to the time he spent on the trail. Readers will feel that they are experiencing the heat and dust as well as the beautiful flora and fauna of the region. Shifting perspectives (the book must be held vertically for trail scenes) add to the drama by providing a sense of the canyon's awesome size while close-ups of the mules highlight the animals' important role. A fascinating and informative addition.--Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA

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