Everything but the Horse

Holly Hobbie, Little, Brown, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-07019-5
In a radical departure from her Toot & Puddle series and recent Fanny books, Hobbie offers an affecting yet never sentimental memoir of her childhood move to a "ramshackle" farm out in the country. Quickly overcoming her initial fear of the countryside, Holly falls in contented love with her new life, especially raising animals—until she sees an older, wealthier, girl galloping by on her well-kept horse and becomes obsessed with having a horse of her own. "We had everything anybody needed to have a horse, and a horse was the one and only thing I wanted more than anything in the world." Hobbie perfectly balances realistic watercolor renderings of the rural landscape, as well as the vintage-flavored decor, clothing, and hairstyles of the early 1950s, with comical spot illustrations of herself and her mischievous brothers. One prophetic scene shows young Holly, "already the best artist in the family and in my class at school," drawing pictures of horses. The joyful surprise ending may puzzle younger readers, but adults will recognize the authenticity of a youthful change of heart. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/13/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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