Tucky Jo and Little Heart
by Patricia Polacco
Simon and Schuster, 2015
A heart-warming story of how a soldier befriends a young girl, providing her and her family with food to help them get through the war and how his kindness is returned many years later.
Johnnie Wallen, a young sharpshooter from Kentucky, convinces his parents to lie about his age, so he can use his skills in the war. Fighting for 216 days straight, he wonders why all this shooting is going on; it just doesn’t seem right. He accidentally comes upon and befriends a native girl who has a birthmark the shape of a little heart on her arm. He calls her Little Heart and she learns to call him Tucky Jo.
As he would do for any neighbor back home in Kentucky, he provides her with some of his rations. When he learns of what has happened to the family and that they are starving, he brings additional food to keep them alive. Eventually he is able to help them escape, and that is the last he sees of them.
He thinks about Little Heart throughout his life. When he becomes a senior, he needs medical care, but it is slow in coming through the Veterans Administration. One day a new nurse shows up and needed health care services become available. Looking at his medical file, the nurse studies his enlistment photo. With tears rolling down her face, she tells him she will take care of Tucky Jo, like he took care of her many years ago.