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A Horse Lover’s Alphabet

by Jessie Haas & illustrated by Margot Apple

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-688-17880-4
Publisher: Greenwillow

A young rider imagines the horses she’ll have when she grows up in this charming equestrian alphabet. To introduce each letter, Haas and Apple (Runaway Radish, not reviewed) highlight different horse breeds and horse-related words. The opening spread, for example, shows “Spotted Appaloosas”—with the “A” highlighted in bold—next to “Arabian steeds.” Later, the girl dreams that “[Her] Lippizans will perform lively leaps, the lightest of lengthenings, lovely levades.” For the letter “X,” Haas recalls the Greek general Xenophon, “who wrote the first text about horses.” Says the narrator, “I’ll examine it often for expert advice.” Rendered in colored pencils, and defined by soft yet studied strokes, Apple’s illustrations portray the animals’ strength and beauty. With centerpiece sketches often flanked by smaller drawings, there is much to admire: a double-page spread for “Q” and “R” shows the narrator touching a blue ribbon to the neck of her “Quarter horse”; seven smaller drawings show them “barrel racing,” “reining” and “calf roping” in a rodeo. Haas’s “More About Horses” section provides detail, highlighting in bold print the breeds and terminology mentioned in the story. While sure to entice horse lovers, Haas and Apple’s offering will also appeal to youngsters as they explore unfamiliar territory in a well-worn format. A fitting addition to the creator’s equine oeuvre; a fine supplement to the ABC canon. (Picture book. 5-10)