A heart-warming tale by Patricia Polacco, Tucky Jo and Little Heart shows the power of caring for those in need.
Set during World War II, Johnnie Wallen enlisted in the army and was sent to the Pacific. He was a great shooter from hunting back home in Kentucky so was recruited as a marksman and explosives training. His nickname was “Kentucky Kid.” He fought and travelled all over the Pacific.
On the island of Luzon he was clearing jungle for an airstrip. He was attacked by every bug imaginable in the tropics and had welts everywhere. A village girl showed him a leaf he could rub on the bites as a relief. The village girl who wouldn’t speak to him began coming around everyday during Johnnie’s work. He called her Little Heart because she had a heart-shaped birthmark on her arm. She called him Tucky Jo.
He began sharing food with her and he made her a doll. He began to give her village rations as well. The village was just old folks, women and children as all the young men had been taken as well as all the food. Tucky Jo took them in as family as well as the rest of his unit. One day the forest was to be fire-bombed as the enemy was heading their way. Tucky Jo had the village evacuated and that was the last he saw of Little Heart.
Johnnie survived the war and went on to get married and raise a family, but he always wondered about Little Heart. In his old age, he needed a hearing aid and cataract surgery but the waitlist at the Veteran’s Administration was impossibly long. One day a nurse told him he was being bumped to the top of the list and the cost had been taken care of. The nurse turned out to be Little Heart who had searched for Johnnie all these years to thank him. She had come to the US and became a nurse. Her kids were doctors and one was an engineer.
Johnnie Wallen was a decorated soldier but the silver heart chain Little Heart whose name is Nurse Zaballa was his most precious gift of all.
Great story about the human heart and caring for others in need. Great example of caring for our veterans who gave so much for our freedom. Awesome how Little Heart was able to repay the kindness so many years later. One never knows how little acts affect other people and this is a great story of how one kindness multiplies tenfold. Highly recommended.