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WHEN THE HORSES RIDE BY by Eloise Greenfield

WHEN THE HORSES RIDE BY

Children in the Times of War

by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: June 15th, 2006
ISBN: 1-58430-249-6
Publisher: Lee & Low

Anxiety and resilience are the major themes twining through both Greenfield’s free-verse testimonials and Gilchrist’s impressionistic collages. Using Langston Hughes’s “Hold Fast To Dreams” as her touchstone, the poet takes the voice of children through the ages: wishing that “Warriors” would only march in parades; sharing both fright and laughter with “A Child Like Me” on the other side of the world; waiting for “Papa,” a veteran whose mind is still on the battlefield, to come all the way back home; pretending that the soldiers riding by are off to some rescue or other constructive task; finding joy in toys and music—“Still, we play. / Our toys take us / to happy places.” Gilchrist blends paint and reworked photos into kaleidoscopic arrays of children’s faces, snatches of historical detail and streams of mixed colors; the effect is panoramic, and ties the poems, which are not specific, to particular cultures or conflicts. Ending on a reassuring note—“We give to the world, / still, / our wonder, our wisdom, / our laughter, our hope”—this gathering keeps the violence mostly off-stage, while providing several sad but hopeful ways to relate its hard reality. (afterword) (Poetry. 7-10)