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EVERYTHING BUT THE HORSE by Holly Hobbie

EVERYTHING BUT THE HORSE

By Holly Hobbie (Author) , Holly Hobbie (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-316-07019-5
Publisher: Little, Brown

Toot and Puddle's creator offers a nostalgic sucker-punch. Hobbie recalls her early childhood, when her parents bought a ramshackle farm and filled it full of all sorts of animals--everything but the one little Holly longed for, a horse. She watched the neighbor girls ride, drew her "best pictures so far" of horses and even collected road apples and put them in the stall in the barn, to make it look lived-in. Then, on a magical birthday, her parents lead her to the barn where her wonderful surprise awaits--and it's a bicycle. Readers will struggle with both the feeling of anticlimax and with Holly's inexplicable lightning-fast switch from disappointment to joy. Did she really just want a way to get around? The overly reminiscent tone may further distance readers. The author's watercolor illustrations are nuanced and lovely, as always, adding to the narrative: The farm's "wild, unpettable cats" haunts her dreams when they first move there; the family dog happily rolls in her imported manure. They cannot compensate for the disappointing story, though. (Picture book. 4-8)