SUN HORSE MOON HORSE

In an effort to imagine the origin of the ancient White Horse of Uffington, cut into a hillside with what she feels to be a magical power, Sutcliff invents Lubrin Dhu, a chief's third son, who is somehow possessed of the true artistic impulse, a need to get into his impermanent drawings the feel and the flight of the birds—or of the horses which are at the center of his people's economy. But invaders from the South, also horse people, conquer their hold, and for the sake of the few of his people who survive the siege, Lubrin makes a bargain with the new chief. He will create the horse on the hillside, and in return his people will be free to move on to other, dreamed-of horse runs further north. Sutcliff refers to Lubrin's work as picture-magic, and though she never suggests any particular beliefs associated with the activity, it is understood by all that Lubrin's own ritual death must be part of the contract. And so Lubrin creates a horse worth dying for, even though he knows that a lesser work would satisfy the one who ordered it. Though Sutcliff has given us more rounded recreations in the past, and here as elsewhere her plot sometimes seems too well made, her vision of an artist simultaneously—in fact, indissolubly—true to his art and to his people is impressively realized.

Pub Date: March 20, 1978

ISBN: 0525404953

Page Count: 111

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1978

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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