Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse

Emily Arnold McCully, Author
Emily Arnold McCully, Holt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8793-2
Reviewed on: 07/12/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
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A horse that recognizes the alphabet, fetches, and dances takes center stage in this true story from the late 19th century. McCully's tale is as much about the beloved and clever animal as it is about his owner and trainer, Bill Key. Born a slave, Bill also is an animal whisperer who "could soothe and... cure just about any creature." Later freed, Bill becomes a veterinarian known as Doc Key, and he spends years training a weak foal named Jim. Taking him on the road, he shows off the horse's many feats. "People will be amazed by how much you know. They will see that animals have feelings, and it's wrong to make them suffer." McCully (Manjiro: The Boy Who Risked His Life for Two Countries) brings the story to life through her watercolors, especially vig-nettes of Jim playing fetch and learning the alphabet. Despite hecklers and the racist attitudes of the Reconstruction-era South (briefly alluded to in the text, and explained more fully in author's notes), Jim and Doc Key are a testament to hard work and the nascent movement for humane treatment of animals. Ages 4–8. (July)
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