cover image SANDMARE


Helen Cooper, Ted Dewan, , illus. by Ted Dewan.. FSG, $15 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36406-9

British author Cooper (Pumpkin Soup) targets an early chapter-book audience in this thin, dreamlike story that opens as Polly and her father draw a rudimentary picture of a horse in the sand. Once Dad gives the horse a pebble eye, it comes alive ("Drawings often come to life once the eyes are in the right place")—but isn't able to move. Simultaneously, Sandmare and Polly wish (on a wishbone) that the horse could run free. After the girl leaves the beach, their wish comes true. Determined to go far away ("maybe as far as the stars," the horse says) to avoid turning back into a sand drawing the following dawn, Sandmare embarks on an inane journey in which she is corralled with a herd of "beach ponies," then continues on to an amusement park, where carousel horses advise her ("Let the waves take you. You should be with the other white horses of the sea"). Eschewing their advice, she meets up with a glass horse in a shop, who tells her to find Polly (and also divulges Polly's whereabouts), who might be able to provide the horse with wings so she can reach the stars. Polly indeed aids Sandmare in her quest as the story winds to a rather cryptic, melodramatic conclusion. Dewan's (Crispin, the Pig Who Had It All) wispy, black-and-white art adds little to this tale. Despite its strong message about the power of perseverance, this is a flimsy fantasy. Ages 6-8. (Mar.)