cover image I Cannot Draw a Horse

I Cannot Draw a Horse

Charise Mericle Harper. Union Square Kids, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4549-4594-9

“This is my shape,” an unseen narrator announces, introducing a smallish gray mound set against a field of graph paper. It doesn’t seem like much (even the shape itself says so), but with a few deft adds, it becomes a schematic cat with black-lined features. Bravo! But the cat, who speaks in yellow dialogue balloons, has a mind of its own, and has no interest in the animals that the narrator draws via the same basic shape. The cat reveals its desire for a “fun, fast friend”—a horse—which is the one thing that the narrator won’t even attempt: “A horse is hard to draw.” Navigating a landscape filled with objects based on the same thumbnail form, the cat continues its bargaining with “I WANT A HORSE! I WANT A HORSE! I WANT A HORSE!” before wisely changing course and fashioning a “YOU CAN DRAW A HORSE” trophy for the narrator. “You must really believe in me. I will try something new,” the voice says, and turns to create an adorable horse—one that proves equally demanding in its own difficult-to-draw request. This simply rendered meta read-aloud by Harper (Bad Sister) raises a host of interesting questions about self-imposed limitations as well as possibilities for growth. Ages 3–8. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Sept.)