Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WE NEED A HORSE by Sheila Heti


by Sheila Heti & illustrated by Clare Rojas

Pub Date: June 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-936365-40-1
Publisher: McSweeney's McMullens

A fine example of the worst that can happen when adult novelists condescend to write for children.  

Heti (Ticknor, 2006, etc.) presents a horse who asks "the light," "What is the reason I was made a horse and not some other animal?"  The light replies, "Because we needed another horse." The horse then meets an unhappy sheep with a tennis racket strapped to her back; she claims she is good at tennis and did not like the light's telling her she was supposed to be a sheep. But the horse likes the sheep, and that makes the sheep happy. Then the horse eats an apple, which makes the apple happy, then the grass sings in the end the horse dies, or doesn't, or something, but by that point it would be hard to imagine the child reader who might care. The muddled mysticism is joined by a complete absence of characterization, story arc, conflict or basic understanding of what comprises a picture book. The bold graphic paintings from muralist Rojas are equally arbitrary and unsuccessful. The pointy-nosed, almond-eyed horse with its Farrah Fawcett mane looks like a (black) fox in drag. The sheep looks like a chinchilla.