Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on January 23, 2015
By Dorothy Hinshaw Patent; Illustrated By Jeannie Brett
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication date: 2/10/2015
There sits a book that will speak to an aficionado of some kind or another on the nonfiction shelves of a school library. Books for foodies, sports fans or Russian history buffs. Books for poetry, folklore or joke lovers. Books for readers curious about meteorology, astronomy or ichthyology.
Where in the school library sit books with the most tell-tale signs of precious wear and tear? A reader will more likely than not pull a tattered cover with dog-eared pages at Dewey Decimal 636.1. This is where horse people go to read again and again about the magnificent equine creatures they adore.
Award-winning children’s author Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and illustrator Jeannie Brett have partnered together to win the hearts and minds of this loyal tribe of reader with an upcoming book, Decorated Horses. The title from Charlesbridge about how humans have adorned their horses throughout history would make a gorgeous addition to a school library’s nonfiction shelves at 636.1.
Mongol Horses: The Greatest Mounted Army
“A sound like distant thunder fills the air, growing stronger as the villagers scramble for safety. They’ve been warned about strange invaders dressed in leather hoods and body armor, riding armored horses. The Mongol army is approaching.”
Each beautiful spread in Decorated Horses expresses the creativity of humans equipping horses for warfare and hunting, performance and competition or ceremony and celebration. Humans have been compelled to show off their chargers in distinctive ways, from the bright red trappings on a samurai’s war horse to the silver on black leather saddles of golden palominos at the Rose Parade.
Thoroughbred Racers: Running for Roses
“It’s the first Saturday of May in 1987—time for the Kentucky Derby! As the horses stride toward the gate, a commentator notes that one of the horses, Alysheba, has made a career out of coming in second or third.”
The book wins kudos for its balanced format, strong content and eye-pleasing illustrations. Brett’s warm watercolors are both sweeping and detailed, while Hinshaw Patent’s effortless narrative ledes maintain the focus of her research throughout the book. Readers can compare each cultural example of horse decoration without the heavy use of cutaways, captions or sidebars.
Italian Parade: Cart Horses of Old Sicily
“Crowds gather along the street for a parade. Cheerful accordion music fills the air, accented by the sound of tambourines. The clip-clop of hoofbeats echoes down the streets of the village as a parade of brightly painted two wheel carts, drawn by heavily decorated horses, passes by. It’s a saint’s day in Sicily.”
Horse people who read do love diagrams with labels. Decorated Horses delivers by highlighting illustrations for parts of a horse and horse tack on pages 44 and 45.
The introduction, conclusion and end pages feature several vignettes horse people will also appreciate: modern Plains Indian children tacking an appaloosa; wild mustangs roaming a prairie; warriors riding horseback on a buffalo hunt. These vignettes are a glowing homage to the painted horse culture of the American Indian.
Horse people ages 8-12 will find Decorated Horses to be an engrossing and satisfying read. They will marvel at the symbolism of decorating horses across cultures and epochs. And they will know how much the author and illustrator love horses, too.
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent has written more than 130 books for children, including The Horse and the Plains Indians, Dogs on Duty and When the Wolves Returned. She lives in Montana with her husband Greg.
Jeannie Brett has written and illustrated many books including Wild About Bears and Little Maine. She lives with her husband on the coast of Maine along with a horse named Bailey and two cats.
Charlesbridge publishes high-quality books of fiction and nonfiction for children with the goal of creating lifelong readers and lifelong learners.