What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know about Horses?

Richard Van Camp, Author, George Littlechild, Illustrator Children's Book Press (CA) $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-89239-154-7
In this slim volume, Van Camp, a member of the Dogrib nation from Canada's Northwest Territories, asks the titular question of friends and family members to gain knowledge of horses. Addressing readers as ""partners,"" the author explains that he is a stranger to horses, for in his often frosty homeland ""All's we had up here were dogs."" In a voice that moves awkwardly between that of cowboy and poet, the narrator imagines what he'd ask a horse: ""Do horses think fireworks are strange flowers blooming in the sky?""; ""When horses and dogs talk to each other, what do you think they say?"" He then returns to the question posed in the book's title, and the answers he receives form a curious pastiche of impressions, ranging from his mother's comment that horses ""must have secrets. When they run they seem to flow over the land"" to a buddy's response that he doesn't like horses because ""you feel great all day when you ride them but after that you feel bowlegged."" Littlechild, who collaborated with Van Camp on A Man Called Raven, conveys a similarly capricious quality in his boldly hued paintings. An array of stylized images of equines and canines cavorting in living rooms and over rooftops as well as the more expected nature scenes incorporate stars and stripes, hearts and horseshoes. Despite the inviting, folksy tone, the book's strongly personal focus and frequently ambiguous meanderings make its potential audience difficult to determine. Ages 6-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-516-21648-5
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-70988-0
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-89239-185-1
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