Tag Archives: horse

The Good-Luck Horse – 1944 Caldecott Honor Book

The Good-Luck Horse is a Chinese legend retold by Chih-Yi Chan and illustrated by her twelve-year old son, Plato Chan that was a 1944 Caldecott Honor book.  The main character, a young boy named Wah-Toong, wants a horse, so he cuts one out of paper, imagining it to be exactly as the horse he wants, but this paper flys over a wall to a nearby Magician who makes the horse come to life and grow.  The boy and the horse love each other, but the the horse, Good-Luck, manages to get into trouble and is renamed Bad-Luck Horse.  Even though he is able to right his wrongs, the horse is lonely and afraid of causing problems again, so he runs away and marries another horse of bad fortune.  They return to the stallion’s former home and again cause problems, but are able to save the day.  Eventually, the horse is able to help avert a war and thus is called the Good-Luck Horse forever.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” For a young illustrator, the technique in these pictures is well-developed.  The pencil or pen drawings with green and orange fill-in only on every other page is certainly different than other books and interesting.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – The story is easy to follow through the illustrations.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.” – The decidedly ancient Chinese appearance of the characters and setting make this story seem like thelegend that it is, but the pleasant story-book horse seems a bit out of place.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, setting, moods, and characters are all very clear through the pictures.  It is funny that, when the horse finds his wife-to-be, even the horses have a flirtatious look in their eyes.

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My children enjoyed this book, but I found that they were not as engaged by the pictures as by the fanciful storyline.

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Bonny’s Big Day by James Herriot

Bonny’s Big Day by James Herriot colorfully tells the story of a work horse who has long been retired and left to graze in a pasture.  When the veterinarian-author visits the farm, he suggests to the disheveled owner that he enter the well-loved horse into the pet show at an upcoming fair.  The older man resists, insisting that the large animal is not a pet, but shows up at the event with the amazing horse well-groomed and decorated.  After being judged against many smaller, adorable animals, the magnificent horse is awarded first prize then returned to her grassy home to live out her days.

Pros:  A gentle-reading story that can help children to see that people and animals may be diamonds in the rough.

Cons: If you don’t have and don’t want a pet, I wouldn’t read this book to a child, as this book will encourage them to desire an animal to love.

Age Range: 3-8

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Blaze and Thunderbolt by C.W. Anderson

Summary:  Blaze and Thunderbolt from the Billy and Blaze series by C.W. Anderson has long been one of my favorite books.  What little girl doesn’t like a horse story? What little boy doesn’t like a cowboy story?  Billy and Blaze befriend Thunderbolt, the last of the wild horses, while vacationing on a ranch in the West.  From the first time Billy sees Thunderbolt escaping from cowboys who are trying to capture him until he is finally able to ride the horse and call him his own, the boy is intrigued by the magnificent animal.

Pros: Throughout the story Billy learns the importance of perseverance and gentleness as he befriends this wild horse.

Cons: Since we live in town, I hope my children don’t get the idea that they will get a horse for a pet.

Age Range: 3-8

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.

SummaryBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, written by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, uses colorful, simple illustrations to teach colors effectively to young children.  The large pictures look as if they could have been created with torn pieces of construction paper and other simple art materials.  My 2-year old son easily started repeating the colors to me and loved looking at the different animals.

Pros:  A fun method to reinforce learning colors.  Eye-catching illustrations.

Cons:  The blue horse and purple cat may be a bit confusing for children.  In some lights the red bird looks more pinkish, so could cause some confusion as well.

Age Range: Newborn to 7

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Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa School Days

Summary: When my oldest daughter, Hannah, commented that she would like to be a character in this book, I knew it was a perfect choice for a blog. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa School Days, an early chapter book by Erica Silverman, brings to life every little girl’s dream to have a horse. The Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa series incorporates many different topics relevant to preschool and elementary school children, such as friendship, school, and fun. It is always entertaining to find out how Kate and her talking horse will learn together as best friends.

Pros: Appeals to young girls; a bit of fantasy with practical applications of friendship, school, etc.

Cons: I don’t have a yard big enough for the horse that my little girl would like!

Age Range: 3-10

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