Wednesday Book Review: ‘Shadow: The Curious Morgan Horse’

This children’s picture book features a wayward Morgan who gets lost on its quest to find a magic pond. Aww… cute. Erin McCabe reviews.

From Erin:

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Pictures!

Even before I had a kid, back when I was still planning to not have kids, I have loved children’s books.  Specifically picture books.  There’s just something special about the shared experience of reading together (that is why people join book clubs right?  not the wine and food?).  I have lots of great memories of being read to as a child.  I love it (mostly) when my kid scoots over to his bookshelf and pulls down one of his favorite books for me to read aloud (again and again and again and again).  I still remember how, the first time I got sick my freshman year of college (that was a tough year, let me tell you), I called home and my mom read The Polar Bear Express to me over the phone.  It helped.  A lot.

There are lots of other things to love about children’s books.  For instance, the pictures.  I still don’t really understand why adult books don’t have more pictures.  I mean, who doesn’t love the combination of art and words?  Who doesn’t love getting a complete story in a short space?  Even more, I love when the story has hidden jokes and messages just for the adults reading the book (I also loved The Muppets, and Shrek, and Toy Story, for the same reason), because that’s the tricky thing about children’s books—they have to appeal to adults, too.

So, in case you also love children’s books, or in case you know some children who need some Horse indoctriNation, I present to you Shadow: The Curious Morgan Horse, written by Ellen F. Feld and illustrated by Jeanne Mellin.  Shadow is a filly who, after the barn rooster tells a story about a magic pond in the forest, decides she must visit it for herself.  When a crazy storm topples a tree into the fence, Shadow sees her chance and sneaks off to find the pond (which she eventually swims in, the naughty little future eventer).  The story reminds me a bit of The Odyssey, because on her way to the pond, Shadow meets creepy monsters like bees and skunks (they’re almost as bad as Cyclops and Circe, right?), and of course Shadow gets lost (wasn’t that Odysseus’ excuse about why it took him so long to get home as opposed to his sojourn with the Sirens?).

In Shadow’s case, it takes the help of a new friend for her to get back home to her frantically pacing and whinnying mother (who is clearly not an eventer).  The story is cute, if a bit predictable.  Still, it teaches about the importance of knowing whether your source of information is reliable (note to self:  roosters are big liars.  And not just about what time it is).  It has a nice example of friendship.  And it includes a Very Important reminder to Never Ever run away from your mother.  All of this, combined with fabulous, correct (meaning her canter really looks like a canter) illustrations of Shadow.

My only real complaint about this book is that there is a lot of text on each page.  As in, my kid’s one-year-old head nearly exploded when he saw all those words.  If he could talk, he would say he wanted the book to have more pages with more pictures.  Also, he’d like a board book edition because words just taste good.  But then again, as much as I like to think my kid’s a genius, this book is really intended for older kids.  I’m pretty sure my 5 and 7 year old niece and nephew would get a kick out of reading it to me—I mean, reading it to their cousin.

Top photo:
Editor’s Note: HN does not condone reading while riding bareback backwards without a bridle or helmet.

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