cover image The Ice Horse

The Ice Horse

Candace Christiansen. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1400-7

The team that collaborated on Calico and Tin Horns again rummages fruitfully in America's attic. The treasure found this time is the long-defunct business of the winter ice harvest. The unadorned text, narrated from the point of view of Jack, 12, tells of the winter his uncle teaches him the family business of cutting and storing ice from the Hudson, to be sold in the summer in New York City. Readers gain a nearly tactile appreciation of this vanished industry, thanks to the solid details (``The horses were fitted with spiked horseshoes so they wouldn't slip on the ice'') included in the text. The dramatic center of the story, however, is Jack's rescue of his uncle's horse when the animal tumbles into the icy river. The simple and unvarying page design focuses attention on the lush paintings of the artist's beloved Hudson Valley. Though the glowing violet sky of the rescue scenes may strike some readers as unnatural, for the most part Locker conjures up an appropriately wintery atmosphere. An exciting, economically told story, and an enjoyable glimpse into the past. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)