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Horse Song: The Naadam of Mongolia (Adventures Around the World) Hardcover – April 1, 2008


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–6—This colorful travelogue recounts the Lewins' trip to Mongolia to experience the annual summer celebration Naadam, in particular the horse-racing competition. It focuses on young Tamir as he prepares for and participates in the event. Information about Mongolian culture and the holiday's traditions are interspersed with an account of the competition. An introduction provides brief background, and unfamiliar terms are explained in context and in the glossary. Betsy Lewin's lively line-and-wash cartoon sketches and spot drawings are intermingled with Ted Lewin's sweeping watercolor paintings, which make effective use of light and rich color to portray both the intensity of the competition and the pageantry of the celebration. For the most part, the writing is tight and fast-paced, reflecting the event it describes. At other times, it becomes flowery and chatty. While perhaps not an essential purchase, the book provides a dynamic view of a culture rarely portrayed in children's books and an event that is sure to interest many young readers.—Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* The Lewins follow travelogue titles such as Top to Bottom Down Under (2005) with another picture-book chronicle of international adventure. This time, they visit Mongolia, where they witnessed the Naadam festival—a celebration that brings together nomadic tribes for sports competitions. The most popular events are the horse races featuring child jockeys who guide their “half-wild” steeds through a long, arduous course. In simple, captivating language, the Lewins describe their long journey to the horse trainers’ camp, where they connect with a skilled nine-year-old jockey, Tamir, and his family, and learn about local customs—from the specifics of Mongolian horse wrangling to staple foods, such as mare’s milk. Then the festival begins, and the Lewins give a heart-pounding, moment-by-moment account of Tamir’s race: “The crowd strains forward. The pounding of hooves grows louder . . . The stallions are at full gallop.” Throughout, clearly presented cultural specifics mix with vivid sensory perceptions that will help children imagine themselves on the windy steppes, but it’s the color-washed sketches and beautiful full-page spreads of the thundering horses and jubilant festivalgoers that will truly capture readers’ attention and draw them into this handsome, heartfelt glimpse of a rarely featured culture. Children, and teachers, seeking more information will appreciate the closing spreads, which include additional cultural commentary and a glossary. Grades 2-5. --Gillian Engberg
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Series: Adventures Around the World
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584302771
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584302773
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 9.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,844,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on August 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Naadam, an annual festival held throughout Mongolia that features horse racing, is thought to be one of the world's oldest sporting events, second only to the Olympics. Told from Ted and Betsy Lewin's point of view and based on events during their journey to Southern Mongolia, the story highlights one of those horse races across a fourteen-mile stretch of the Gobi Desert. At a camp of horse trainers about 800 miles away from the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, a nomad family has kindly offered the Lewins their hospitality. The reader also meets a nine-year old member of this family, Tamir, who is hard at work training his half-wild race horse in preparation for the upcoming Naadam. Much of the book chronicles the way of life for this family in the desert, the practice of "sweating up" the horses for the race, and the enormous excitement on race day.

Although the book focuses on the horse race competition and the question of how Tamir will perfom as a jockey, the authors have carefully woven in a set of economics lessons related to natural and human resources. For example, the family members use the milk from their mares, sheep, cows, and goats to make a variety of food and drink items. Also, the abundance of horses in Mongolia (there may be three times as many horses as people), helps to explain the popularity of horse racing. The intricate illustrations further help to convey how the family maintains its livelihood in the desert. Children and adults alike will appreciate the book's exciting plot, strong substantive content, and unique focus on Mongolia.
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By M. Heiss on July 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Add this one to your book list on the Silk Road -- this one captures the Mongolian horse culture and captivates with illustrations and a notes section that will please any teacher or parent.

Very good glossary at the back; some pronunciation helps.
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By Debra Jaimet-Figge on September 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a nice story that tells about the custom of horse racing in Mongolia among children. It was informative, but the illustrations were the best. Colorful and detailed they added a lot to the tail.
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