Readers will almost feel the wind in their hair and hear the thunder of hooves as they are inspired to pursue their dreams....

IF I HAD A HORSE

A young child imagines having a horse for a companion.

It is the stunning illustrations that will catch readers’ eyes first. Unusually rich silhouettes that portray motion-filled interaction fill each double-page spread. The lush gouache paintings depict the child and the horse—some pictures closely cropped—in silhouette with minimal backgrounds that are rendered in bold, often primary colors that use the diffusion of the medium to suggest detail. They are evocative of movement, dreaming, and daring: a child’s imagination run wild and free. They pair perfectly with the text, in which the young child, of indeterminate gender and race, imagines what it would be like to have a horse: “If I had a horse, we would be brave together.” While the child’s longing is wistful, at its core it is also inspirational, as the story is an allegory (“I would have to be strong. Like him”) about how it takes discipline, trust, fearlessness, and courage to make dreams come true. And when the child says, “I might have to tame him,” readers may understand the metaphor for taming one’s own eagerness and impetuousness that could get in the way of dreams realized.

Readers will almost feel the wind in their hair and hear the thunder of hooves as they are inspired to pursue their dreams. Beautiful. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-908-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hee haw.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

Did you like this book?

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more