Brief Description: A Jewish homesteading mother in Wyoming rescues an orphaned colt
Historical Era: 20th Century
Date Range: Early 1900s
Original Publication: 1989
Suitable for Grades: 2-4th
Target Audience: Picture Book
Berchick, which means “little bear” in Yiddish, is the name a Jewish Russian American immigrant family gives to a newborn orphaned colt that Mama discovers one day on her way home. He is a fancy well-bred Thoroughbred, not like the plow and cart horses that work their homestead. She promises the dead mare that she will watch over the baby horse, and so she does. Berchick grows up to become a family pet, letting the three children climb on its back and brush him, following the family members around on various errands and neighborly visits. Athletic and smart, he can jump any fence and seems to understand what people say to him.
All in the family are quite fond of Berchick, so it is with much sadness that after two unsuccessful farming years the family must abandon the homestead and move back into town. The horse trader buys all of the horses and takes them away, including Berchick. Two times he returns to the family in the evening, and Mama warns him that he should run away. And so he does! Some time later, a family friend relates that he saw Berchick in the hills, running with a herd of wild horses.
This story has no specific historical details, but the author grew up on a Wyoming homestead in the early 1900s. Black and white illustrations by Tennessee Dixon depict frontier life in this time period. A particularly stunning spread shows Main Street, horses and carts on a dirt road running between blocks of shops, and people strolling on a boardwalk. Another illustration shows several Jewish families celebrating Thanksgiving together in their unique way.