STARRED REVIEW
February 2018

A dreamy, passionate wish

illustrated by Gianna Marino

In a book illustrated entirely in silhouette and written in the conditional tense, we meet a young girl who longs to have her own horse. She dreams of meeting one, shy like her, and befriending, taming and riding him. Her horse would be strong and gentle, and together, the girl imagines, they would conquer anything.

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In a book illustrated entirely in silhouette and written in the conditional tense, we meet a young girl who longs to have her own horse. She dreams of meeting one, shy like her, and befriending, taming and riding him. Her horse would be strong and gentle, and together, the girl imagines, they would conquer anything.

Author-illustrator Gianna Marino uses cool teals, purples and blues in expansive, border-free spreads (no borders could possibly corral this young girl’s big desires), balanced by the warm reds and yellows of the setting sun. The choice to convey all the action in silhouette is a fitting one for a book about a goal not yet met, as if we’re seeing the incomplete details of a dream. Movement propels the turn of each page; the girl’s hair and horse’s mane fly in the wind as she imagines how she would ride free if her wish were granted.

Marino’s tone is both gentle and fierce as the girl imagines the person she could become and what her moral character could be (strong, brave, curious and fearless) if she had her beloved horse by her side. It’s 40 pages of a girl’s most fervent wish, dreamy and wistful. Horse lovers will be especially rapt.

 

Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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If I Had a Horse

If I Had a Horse

illustrated by Gianna Marino
Roaring Brook
ISBN 9781626729087

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