Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

Girl Who Loved Wild Horses

by Paul Goble
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Trade Paperback
Current Retail Price: $3.95
Used Price: $1.00 (1 in stock) Condition Policy

A plains Indian girl with flowing black hair takes care of the wild horses in the camp of her people. She understands the horses better than anyone else. One day she gets swept away with a herd of wild horses and for one happy year lives with them in a hidden valley. But when her family comes looking for her she must make a choice. Return to her people, or live and be free among the horses?

Every so often a picture book comes along with gorgeous illustrations to which the story does not do justice. This is one of those picture books. Paul Goble tries to tell a simple tale set among the plains Indians, but his co-opting of Indian spirituality gives this story a problematic conclusion, along with some ensuing worldview issues.

That aside, this is a beautiful book.The illustrations are, in a word, gorgeous. Goble uses traditional ink and watercolor in a uniquely vibrant way. His color pallete is simple -- mostly reds and browns -- but he accents it with splashes of yellow and deep blue. He draws nature in flowing arcs that capture the idea of motion, but uses the white background to his advantage also, depicting the sky with a splash of clouds, the plains with a rich carpet of flowers.

The pictures are visually amazing, but the story itself has issues. The girl (spoiler alert) ends up choosing to live with the wild horses and is rewarded for that choice by eventually becoming a horse herself. The story's conclusion is that we can always remember that we have a relative among the Horse People. (end of spoiler) It's this romanticism of the girl forsaking humans for horses that lends this book its discordant note. This book deserved the Caldecott medal for its illustrations; its the story that means it must be recommended with reservations.

Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time.
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