This wordless picture book uses watercolor to show a helmet-clad, sword-bearing horseman moving miraculously unscathed above, below, and past all manner of scary situations.
Stark white pages—sized 12 inches tall and fewer than 6 inches in width—are the perfect backdrop for this simple story and its humorous punchline. The first double-page spread shows the Little Barbarian running from left to right across the bottom of the pages toward a docile-appearing, saddled steed. Next he’s mounted, and the pair fearlessly leaps across two pages of jagged, brownish cliffs bookending a deep, bottomless ravine. They continue to move, always left to right, effortlessly through rains of arrows, above licks of flame, and past vividly painted creatures of sea and air, some mythologically inspired. Children will be delighted at Little Barbarian’s continued calm expression, even when he and his trusty horse are gliding above a group of spear-wielding cyclops. The art contains plentiful negative space around the well-crafted threats, allowing viewers to giggle nervously but not worry about any real danger. When all the frightening situations have disappeared, the rider, who has beige skin and brown hair, looks concerned for the first time. He is crying by the time he is approached by an enormous pair of light brown arms extended below a benevolent, bearded face. Is God intervening? The final spread is funny and enlightening.
Inspired pictures will, in turn, inspire wide-eyed conversations. (Picture book. 3-7)