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IF I HAD A HORSE by Gianna Marino Kirkus Star


by Gianna Marino ; illustrated by Gianna Marino

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-62672-908-7
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

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)