Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE GIRL ON THE HIGH-DIVING HORSE by Linda Oatman High Kirkus Star


An Adventure in Atlantic City

by Linda Oatman High & illustrated by Ted Lewin

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-399-23649-X
Publisher: Philomel

The attention-grabbing title, the intriguing cover, and the scene-setting subtitle will compel readers to take a look inside. Once there, they will be transported to Atlantic City, 1936, where Ivy Cordelia thinks she is the luckiest girl in the world. This is where she will spend the summer while her father takes photographs of the boardwalk. Best of the attractions—boxing kangaroos, card-playing cats, daredevils sitting on flagpoles, dancing tigers, sand artists, and human cannonballs—are the high-diving horses. Every day Ivy watches as a pretty teenaged girl in helmet and bathing suit sits astride a horse high on a platform and they plunge into a tank of water. Ivy is only eight, but she dreams of being one of those girls. The immediacy of the first-person voice and the magnetic force of the scenes are totally engaging, attributable, perhaps, to the fact that both author and illustrator have childhood experiences from Atlantic City (as explained in notes from each). Lewin’s (Tooth and Claw, p. 235, etc.) note also describes how he created his illustrations in the style of linen postcards that were popular then by first making black-and-white paintings and then applying thin washes of color. The result is his familiar detailed realistic artwork with images that fully evoke the sights, stunts, and sounds of the place and time. Excellent page composition incorporates animation and movement into the panorama. The story and illustrations fuse together, placing readers at the scene and making them wish they were there, delightfully capturing the thrill of a unique time and place. (Picture book. 5-9)