A lovely telling of a lovely tale.

THE EIGHTY-DOLLAR CHAMPION

THE TRUE STORY OF A HORSE, A MAN, AND AN UNSTOPPABLE DREAM

The enthralling tale of an unlikely champion.

Delayed by a flat tire and a snowstorm, Harry de Leyer arrived at the New Holland, Pennsylvania, horse auction in February 1956 after sales had been completed. The kill buyer had already loaded the unsold horses onto a trailer destined for the slaughterhouse when a gaunt gray gelding with wounds from a plow harness caught de Leyer’s eye. De Leyer, a White man who had emigrated from Holland after World War II, knew something about suffering and bought the horse for $80. Within a few months, Snowman was placidly carrying beginner riders at the exclusive Knox School where de Leyer ran the riding program. However, he tripped over ground poles: He seemingly couldn’t jump. But after being sold to a neighboring farmer, Snowman regularly jumped 5-foot fences to come home. De Leyer bought him back; soon the unlikely pair were winning against the most cosseted and expensive horses in the country. Though de Leyer’s status as a professional riding teacher meant they were ineligible for the Olympics, Snowman became an international favorite. Here, equestrian Letts revises her adult title from 2011. In many ways it’s more successful as a young readers’ edition: With the tighter focus, the sweetness of the relationship between de Leyer—who, though needing money, turned down blank-check offers for the horse he and his children loved—and Snowman shines even brighter. Extensive backmatter enhances this irresistible story.

A lovely telling of a lovely tale. (Nonfiction. 8-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12712-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.

SURVIVOR KID

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SURVIVAL

Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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