Calico the Wonder Horse

Virginia Lee Burton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-547-57572-8
Originally published in 1941, Burton’s story of Calico, “the smartest fastest horse in all of Cactus County,” reappears in an edition that emphasizes its (somewhat tenuous) connection to Christmas: Bandit Stewy Stinker, an actual mustache-twirling villain, “was said to be so mean he would hold up Santa Claus on Christmas Eve if he had a chance,” and the story concludes with a Christmas Eve party at the schoolhouse. Most of the serpentine tale follows Calico and Hank the cowboy’s efforts to round up Stewy and his wonderfully named crew of Bad Men: Butch Bones, Snake Eye Pyezon, Buzzard Bates, and Skunk Skeeter. Set against red and green backdrops, Burton’s handsome b&w images dazzle, filled with dust clouds, fierce chases, and even fiercer face-offs. Though the story occasionally shows its age (“For weeks the womenfolks had been baking cakes and pies and doughnuts”), the no-nonsense, wryly funny narration (“It rained so hard and so fast that if you opened your mouth you’d be in danger of drowning”) is just as delightful 75 years on. Ages 4–7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/26/2016
Release date: 10/11/2016
Hardcover - 64 pages - 978-0-395-85735-9
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-395-84541-7
Open Ebook - 64 pages - 978-0-547-53063-5
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