cover image Clever Hans: The True Story of the Counting, Adding, and Time-Telling Horse

Clever Hans: The True Story of the Counting, Adding, and Time-Telling Horse

Kerri Kokias, illus. by Mike Lowery. Putnam, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-51498-5

Clever Hans was a horse who astounded early-20th-century audiences in Berlin with his cognitive talents—he could purportedly tell time and tap out coin values with his hooves—and who turned out to be clever in a different way than originally thought. Hans was also an inadvertent hero, revolutionizing experimental design by showing, as the book’s afterword explains, “how scientists can accidently change the way that animals, and even people, react when they are being studied.” It all plays out as a rollicking science mystery, with observations resulting in twists and turns, and Kokias (Snow Sisters!) and Lowery (Knot Cannot) are more than up for the task. The text takes an unhurried, reportorial tone (“Scientists, scholars, and religious and military leaders from around the world jumped at the chance to see Clever Hans”), while the thoughtful cartooning portrays Hans himself as downright adorable. Comics-style framing breaks the story into easy-to-grasp chunks, with diagrams, dialogue balloons, and handwritten asides (“Maybe this meant that Clever Hans was a PSYCHIC MIND READER!”) that punctuate, nudge, and tickle until the case is cracked—leaving readers feeling a little savvier about the world around them. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Susan McCabe, Lilla Rogers Studio. (May)