cover image If I Was a Horse

If I Was a Horse

Sophie Blackall. Little, Brown, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-51098-1

In an amusing meditation on self-determination, a young narrator imagines being free of the rules of childhood and family life—by dint of becoming a horse. Caldecott Medalist Blackall begins, “If I was a horse, I would gallop all day.// I could go anywhere I want,// and I’d come home when I was hungry.” One accompanying spread shows a bay horse with a spray of white spots across its back entering a kitchen and grazing on a sandwich. A younger sibling giggles; an older sibling, absorbed in a book, notices nothing. The speaker describes giving their sister a ride to school (halting just shy of the entrance to munch flowers); swimming, goggle-clad, in a race (“Everyone/ would want me on their team”); and looking skeptically at a caregiver proffering both a bath and garments (“If I was a horse, I wouldn’t wear clothes”). After bedtime, the real voice behind the words is revealed. Throughout this cozy view of longed-for freedoms in childhood, Blackall’s signature-style illustrations summon giggles about the comic ill-suitedness of horses to the human-scale world. Characters are portrayed with various skin tones. Ages 4–8. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Oct.)