Youngsters who love anything equine should enjoy this volume filled with ample horse details and lore wrapped in light humor.

Midway Dreams

An ambitious pony in Kentucky imagines a future filled with possibilities in this debut children’s book that mixes dreams, facts, and motivational messages.

Crafted as “edutainment” and primarily for horse fans, this work by Shew and Orttenburger—a fourth-grade teacher—revolves around a colt named Midway, who relates equine dreams that take him “traveling on adventures all over the world.” He imagines winning the Triple Crown, becoming a rodeo star, pulling a milk cart in Scotland, running with wild mustangs in the Grand Canyon, marching in the Christmas parade in New York as a police horse, and more. The chapters, one page in length, consist of text appropriate for readers ages 8 to 12. The work delivers Midway’s narrative followed by brief facts arranged as a bullet-point list related to that day’s dream. When the pony fantasizes about taking part in a rodeo on July Fourth, for example, the authors offer info-bits about bull riding, Western music, and the origin of the holiday. Midway realizes “a dream come true” when he is cast in a movie as the yearling version of champion thoroughbred Secretariat, and the fact list offers background on that Triple Crown winner and names famous “Hollywood” horses. Payst’s cartoon-style illustrations are arranged a bit haphazardly, some before the pertinent chapter, others after. They are lively and offer a witty touch despite an awkward, rubbery-looking Midway who bears little resemblance to anything found in nature. Each clearly written chapter introduces a different kind of horse, equine competition, event, or job. Mixed-breed Midway refuses to see limitations: if he puts his mind to it, he thinks, he could even be an award-winning Palomino. (“A dream can become a desired goal or purpose, like becoming the fastest horse in the world or a rodeo star,” the authors explain.) The book’s overall lesson for success: “Set goals and work hard.” Which of Midway’s dreams will be realized may come later—this is the first work in an intended series.

Youngsters who love anything equine should enjoy this volume filled with ample horse details and lore wrapped in light humor.

Pub Date: April 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-0295-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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OTIS

From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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