Waiting…

Haseley, Dennis. Twenty Heartbeats. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2008.
We are often so sure of our thoughts. So sure of our beliefs. Sometimes, though, we are so wrong that when we discover our error, we can scarcely breathe. That abrupt enlightenment is at the heart of this picture book illustrated by the inimitable Ed Young.
A wealthy man hires an artist to paint a picture of his favourite horse. Years pass. The painting does not arrive. Finally, enraged, the man goes to the artist. Where is the painting? What has taken so long?
This elegant reflective story is recommended for readers and listeners six years old and up. You’ll smile and listen differently afterwards.

(Note to aspiring writers and illustrators: Notice the feeling at the end of the story: the sense of being pulled up to a sudden stop. Look at the last illustration: notice the posture of the horse. Then think about the power of illustrations to do more than show the events of a story.)

More books about art

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Galloping to the rescue…

Hoban, Russell and Quentin Blake. Rosie’s Magic Horse. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2012.
What a silly story! A little girl dreams of a horse – Stickerino – that helps her find a treasure chest full of gold, which she presents to her parents the next morning.
What a brilliant story! The worries of bill-paying parents, after all, do affect their children. This not-unusual family situation is depicted with insight and sensitivity.
What a beautiful story! The lively illustrations and flowing text seem to be dashed off in a flash. But, of course, only exceptional creators such as Hoban and Blake can make it look and sound so easy.

Highly recommended for almost anyone who likes to laugh and loves language.

For analytical readers: note how sentences do not end with ‘said’ but rather with a character’s name: e.g. not “Rosie said.” but rather “…said Rosie.”Stories flow better visually when the final word of a sentence has that kind of weight.

More tips on critiquing stories HERE.

More picture books HERE.

Surviving the winter…

Kerr, Philip. The Winter Horses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
Kalinka, a Jewish orphan girl, hides from Nazi soldiers during the winter of 1941. On the wind-blown plains of the Ukraine, she meets an elderly man and two wild horses who help her flee from danger. This fascinating story of the rare Przewalski horses will intrigue readers who enjoy historical fiction. While the novel is somewhat awkwardly written – as if the author is explaining the story rather than letting it come to life – it nevertheless provides a unique perspective on World War 2 and so is recommended for readers 11 to 16 years of age.

More stories of World War 2

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