Steve the good-natured, self-absorbed horse and his animal friends are back in a story about teamwork and sportsmanship (A Horse Named Steve, 2017).
Steve historically wins the annual Race-a-Thon, but this year the forest creatures have decided on a relay race. To be fair, teams are created by drawing names. Imagine Steve’s surprise—nay, his consternation—when he’s told his teammates are a turtle, a snail, and a duck! How can they win? Steve has a brilliant idea—possibly prompted by his teammates asking: “Coach us?” “Coach us?” He’ll “share [his] running wisdom”! His goofy smile never leaves his face as he spouts nonsensical tips, blithely oblivious to the real needs of his students. Readers are in the know. Simple, sepia-toned, cartoon-style art makes body language and facial expressions easy to read. The action unfolds in a neatly paced variety of double-page spreads, vignettes, and panels. If Steve’s coaching is ineffective, it’s no matter. It turns out that the racecourse combined with weather conditions is optimal for each of his runners’ natural abilities. Turtle, snail, and duck each pull ahead of their competitors. Steve is so proud of them (and himself, of course) that he forgets to run his portion! Steve could beat himself up—or conclude that he helped two other teams win.
In this comical tale, the lesson lies in how the race is run. (Picture book. 4-8)