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by Sharon Hart Addy & illustrated by Brad Sneed

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-13166-3
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”: what might happen if this familiar saying were true? Zeb wishes for many things: that it wasn’t so hot, that it wasn’t so dry, that he had a horse to help him carry a heavy sack of flour. Just as he wishes this last, a stranger rides by and tips his white Stetson hat; all of a sudden, Zeb has a horse! His mother doesn’t believe him, he wishes she might react differently, and a second horse appears in her kitchen. One look at Ma’s face sends boy and horse outside, where the palomino nearly tramples townswoman Mrs. Vander Snooty. Zeb promptly apologizes, but old habits die hard and he starts to say that he wished it hadn’t happened, only to find another horse appearing out of nowhere. Each horse causes more trouble; each time Zeb wishes it hadn’t, hilariously compounding his problems. After trying to wear out the wishing and ending up with a herd, he thinks of a solution: “I wish my wishes could just be wishes.” The horses disappear, and he’s happier for it. Sneed’s (Picture a Letter, p. 741, etc.) watercolor illustrations recall the early American west; exaggerated facial expressions and horses running amok perfectly convey the chaos. He has a knack for perspective; when the first horse appears and Zeb is “Eye to eye with a buckskin cow pony,” an enraptured Zeb’s face is shown up close, next to a large, brown, equine eye. This cautionary tale, humorously told and illustrated, gets its message across gently and without didacticism. (Picture book. 4-8)