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If a Horse Had Words
Cover of If a Horse Had Words
If a Horse Had Words
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For horse-loving readers of all ages, a lyrical and exquisitely illustrated picture book following the relationship between a boy and a horse, separated then reunited. This is a story about enduring...
For horse-loving readers of all ages, a lyrical and exquisitely illustrated picture book following the relationship between a boy and a horse, separated then reunited. This is a story about enduring...
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Description-

  • For horse-loving readers of all ages, a lyrical and exquisitely illustrated picture book following the relationship between a boy and a horse, separated then reunited. This is a story about enduring friendships and how language is shaped by our experiences.
    The foal is born on a spring morning of sunshine and snow melt. If she had words, she would say willow, crocus, puddle and sky . . .
    Red Badger is a newborn foal learning to stand when she slips and gets stuck in a muddy badger hole. It is a young boy who frees her, and his kindness and gentleness mark the beginning of their friendship — though she will always be wary of the ground that briefly trapped her. As the seasons pass on the ranch, Red Badger learns more about her world: Fall is leaf rustle and fence posts. Winter is white hills and long nights. The boy is hay, a gentle touch, playing in the snow and the sweet smell of peppermints. If a horse had words, the word would be . . . friend.
    This is a beautifully written and heartwarming story told from the horse's point of view that follows her relationship with a boy from the day she is born, to when she is sent to auction, to the day she and the boy are reunited at a rodeo where she has become a bronc and he a cowboy.

About the Author-

  • KELLY COOPER grew up in the tiny farming community of Senlac, Saskatchewan, where she vaccinated, branded and ear-tagged cattle, sorted calves on foot and on horseback, drove cattle to pasture on horseback and drove a tractor and a three-ton truck. Kelly later moved to New Brunswick and now lives on a dairy farm with one husband, two daughters, a hundred cows, many cats and two donkeys. Kelly has years of experience teaching language arts and visual arts and has worked with students of all ages. She has written for radio, and her poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction have been published in a number of Canadian literary journals and several anthologies. She has previously published a collection of linked stories, Eyehill. This is her first book for children.
    LUCY ELDRIDGE is a traditional artist who works primarily in watercolor and gouache to create beautiful, whimsical illustrations. She finds inspiration for her work from a variety of things, including pebbles found on the beach, biscuits, origami paper, dictionaries, maps, Chinese brush painting, clouds, trees, trinkets and cats. Lucy illustrated the middle-grade novel Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird. This is her first picture book. She is based in Brighton, UK.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 16, 2018
    In her first book for children, Canadian author Cooper offers a tale of a foal and her boy that blends the scope of a novel with the grace of a poem. Born on a spring morning, the foal tries out her long legs and sinks into a badger hole, from which she’s hauled out by a man and his freckled, cowboy-hatted companion: “If a horse had words,” Cooper writes, in a phrase that serves as the story’s title and leitmotif, “the word would be... boy.” Boy and foal watch the seasons change contentedly together until one day, the boy tries to ride her, and she tosses him. She has to go, the man says, and, in a wrenching moment, she’s auctioned off. But she meets the boy again in a triumphant moment that redeems their separation. Cooper’s lilting voice dances through the story, while folk-naive watercolors by Eldridge, in her picture-book debut, capture the foal’s lovely lines. Readers drawn to stories about the unbreakable bonds between children and animals will remember this one. Ages 4–8.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2018

    K-Gr 3-When the foal is born she takes in her surroundings. As she stands for the first time, her back legs are stuck in a muddy hole, but a young boy and his dad come to help her free; still, she's forever fearful of the ground. As she grows into a horse, she has many experiences with the boy, running and jumping, and watching the seasons pass. Eventually, readers learn her name, Red Badger, and in her dislike of the ground, she accidentally bucks the boy off her back. His dad decides to sell Red Badger and she ends up at the rodeo. The boy, now older, arrives to ride at the rodeo. They recognize each other and their reunion brings them both incredible joy. This book is written in a poetic and lyrical manner, from the perspective of the horse. The watercolor illustrations give the book a dreamy quality, which fits perfectly with the text. VERDICT A solid and engaging choice for horse lovers or anyone who has ever bonded with an animal.-Shana Shea, Windsor Public Library, CT

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2018
    The friendship between a boy and a horse is explored in this picture book.A newborn foal, struggling to rise, slips and becomes trapped in a badger hole. This tension-filled narrative beginning is agreeably softened by Eldridge's airy, whimsical watercolor illustrations that give the moment a calm, problem-to-be-resolved feel. Sure enough, a man and a boy arrive and pull the unhurt foal to freedom, and the basic premise of the story is neatly set: The foal, named Red Badger, and the boy become friends, and they both dislike the ground. When Red Badger is grown, the boy tries to ride him but is bucked off. The boy laughs, but the man decides to sell Red Badger at auction. They are reunited much later at the rodeo where Red Badger is a bucking bronco and the boy has become a bronco rider. Cooper's narrative is soundly constructed, full of poetic circularity, and the illustrations make an airy counterpoint, with plenty of white space to reinforce the idea of movement and open country. But the underlying presumption of the dominion of human over beast is an atypical theme for a children's picture book, and readers may find the idea of Red Badger's ending up as a bucking bronco in a rodeo less than nourishing.A skillfully told, whimsically illustrated story of friendship, with a rodeo aspect that may limit its audience. (Picture book. 5-8)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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