From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—This humorous picture book requires a total suspension of disbelief. The premise that a man wearing Western clothing and sitting in a saloon does not know what to do with a saddle he receives for his birthday is delightfully silly. The instructions that accompany the gift advise him to "1. Find a horse 2. Enjoy the ride." However, the man does not know what a horse is so he asks a red wagon, "Are you a horse?" "'Nope, I'm an old wagon,' said the wagon. 'A horse is a living
thing.'" He asks a cactus the same question, and it replies, "I bristle at the thought! I'm a cactus. A horse is an animal." Then he queries various animals absurdly found in the same habitat: a snake, a crab, a lion, and a zebra. The crab declares, "I'll pinch you good! A horse is friendly. I'm a crab! NOW GO AWAY!" The conclusion delivers a big chuckle. The gouache and India ink illustrations are comical and colorful, and the cartoon expressions capture the burlesque nature of the story. There are some clever visual interpretations. One series of six panels conveys the lengthy passage of time that it takes for a sloth to give his answer. A goofy giggle-inducing read-aloud.—Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA
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When cowboy Roy is given a saddle for his birthday, he can’t wait to try it out. Right after he figures out what it’s for. Luckily, it comes with instructions (“1. Find a horse. 2. Enjoy the ride”), but unluckily, Roy doesn’t know what a horse is. So he saunters about asking each creature he meets if it’s a horse. They all tell him why they’re not: horses have legs, explains the snake; a horse is friendly, explains the many-legged crab; a horse can’t change colors, says the friendly chameleon. Roy is just about out of questions when he finally finds something that fits all the requirements, and a horse it turns out to be. The western-styled gouache art is packed with colors and peppered with lighthearted jokes. Much of the visual fun comes from the way each animal has the characteristic Roy has just learned about from the previous encounter, while the text effectively uses negation to keep him looking. Kids will enjoy knowing more than the hapless Roy with the final page showing an extremely unexpected horsy ride. Preschool-Grade 2. --Ian Chipman