"The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses" won the Caldecott Award in 1978, the most prestigious award for children's illustrated books. As a children's librarian, I am always curious when I first open a Caldecott winner to see if I can readily identify why the book won the award.
Paul Goble is certainly an artist who sees beauty. He sets his story in the days of the Native American ascendancy on the plains. He renders nature in plentitude and colors the most beautiful black I have ever seen. In this Native American fairy tale a horrible black storm sweeps across the plains, frightening the horses into a stampede, carrying the older girl with them. She is what we would now call a horse whisperer.
In the night scene Goble depicts the black of the sky with stars and moon and the black of the high mountains in two shades of black. The horses, outlined in white against the mountains, look like gouache. The scene is stunning.
Goble goes on to have the girl meet a spotted wild stallion, who accepts her and the horses into his herd. By the end of this lovely fantasy, she has become a horse and the stallion's mate. The verdant flowers and rocks and pairings of five sets of animals match the horse pairing. It could happen in a fairy tale.
This story would appeal to any child with a strong artistic sense. Goble paints so much into his story that the visual story can almost stand alone. I know children who would love to "find" all the extras included in the scenery. The artwork is truly extraordinary. This book is highly recommended for ages 5 and up.
"The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses" is a straightforward tale of the Plains Indians, retold and illustrated by Paul Goble, unlike those that he has told about the trickster, Iktomi. This myth does not folllow any one story exactly but is put together from a great number of stories belonging to the peoples who lived on the Great Plains that Goble had read or listened to over the years. This story is premised on the importance of horses to these peoples. The title character is a girl in the village would loved horses so much that she would led them to drink at the river and when she spoke softly to them they would follow her. Her people recognized that she understood horses in a special way, which explains why this story ends the way that it does.
Every day after doing her chores the young girl would run off to be with the horses. One day there is a great lightning storm that drives the horses, carrying the young girl, over the horizon to a land she had never seen before. There she finds a beautiful spotted stallion, stronger and prouder and more handsome than any horse she had ever dreamed of. He is the leader of all the wild horses who roamed the hills and he welcome her to live with them. But a year later two hunters from her people discover her in the hills where the wild horses lived and they will try to bring the girl back to her parents. The question is whether the girl can be happy back with her people now that she has lived with the wild horses.
Goble's distinctive artwork, which recalls the art of the Plains Indians of the 19th century, is particularly well suited to this simple tale. As was the case in one of his earlier books, "The Gift of the Sacred Dog," which told how the first horses came into the lives of the people, you can tell that Goble likes to draw horses. In "The Girl Who Loves Wild Horses" he has ample opportunity to draw dozens of them, as well as the young girl decked out in her colorful garb, and I particularly liked the plant life he draws this time around. No wonder this book was the winner of the Caldecott Medal.
on August 3, 1997
This is considered a children's book, and I haven't the foggiest idea why. This book has everything going for it--art, history, memorable characters, a tear-jerker ending and a just plain good story. This is arguably the most famous of Paul Goble's books--he has a whole series of Native American "children's books" and it has deservedly won awards. You--yes you--will spend a happy long time trying to find everything in Goble's intricate landscapes in each and every one of his illustrations. This book is my fantasy come to life. This isn't just a book--it's something to save from a fire. Unfortunately, I couldn't save it from my guinea pig Muffin, who ate the spine, but that's another topic
on June 3, 2001
My daughter is horse crazy right now. That's what initially led me to this title. However, and fortunately, it turns out that the book is a wonderfully illustrated Native American tale, complete with a bit of magical realism. Thus the title of this review. We talked about what happened to the girl and why the tale goes the way it does.
The story is about a young Native American girl who falls in love with a herd of wild horse. She manages to join the herd and live with them for quite a while. (To say more would ruin the tale.)
My 7 year-old can read it unaided, but it does have more text per page than most early reading books. Though the story is about a girl, I don't think the tale is all that gendered, and boys should find it equally interesting.
A good lead in to this sort of fiction is the much easier picture book, Storm Boy, by Paul Owen Lewis [....] That is a magnificently illustrated tale from the Northwest, drenched in magical realism. In fact, we still read that book periodically; it's so enchanting.
on December 10, 2002
Paul Goble transcends perfection. Any artist, or anyone who loves art, will want to look at this book again and again...
Simon & Schuster recommends the book for ages 5 to 8, but any child approaching or in his or her early teens would be enchanted by the simplicity of the artwork and the way it so powerfully conveys the story the words tell. Even adults will enjoy this poetic picture book.
on February 22, 2015
If you know a girl who loves horses, I highly recommend this book about a Plains Indian girl who literally leaves her world to live among wild horses. The narrative is compelling to anyone who loves horses, and between the narration and the beautiful graphic-style illustrations, an enchanting horse world is created. Even though the book won the 1978 Caldecott, this book is timeless and should be on every horse lover's shelf. In fact, I received my first copy of it as a birthday gift from a friend when I turned 35! This is one of my go-to gifts for my friends' and relatives' children, and lately, I have been combining this gift with an Appaloosa stuffed horse - a winning combination!
on August 18, 2014
The Art is lovely in this Native American fable. Personally, I found the ending where the woman apparently 'married a horse' a bit weird, however, which prevented me from giving it 5 stars. The idea of the girl's "family" being the horse herd and that she was better off with the animals than her human tribe was, again, not to my taste. I wouldn't recommend this book, unless a person enjoys Native American fables in particular. Having said all this, I doubt a child would pick up on the strange moral or bizarre relationships, and would just see it as a fun fantasy romp. And it is truly lovely art.
The ultimate girl/horse story. There are plenty of tales in which a young girl bonds with a very special horse. This is the rare book in which the girl not only bonds with a horse but, in the end, becomes one herself (as well as that horse's mate). Paul Goble made quite a career out of telling Native American folktales in picture book form. In this particular story, a girl's love for four-legged beasts is taken to its logical extreme.
In this book, a girl once cared for her tribe's horses during the day. She would water them and find them places to feed. One day, a storm rose while the girl slept and the horses grazed. In a panic, the animals began to stampede away, and it was only by her skill that the girl was able to climb aboard one. When at last they stopped, the girl met the leader of all the wild horses, a beautiful spotted stallion. The girl continued to live with the creatures until one day she was successfully captured by members of her own tribe. She was happy to see her parents once more, but begged to return to the horses. The tribe agreed and each year she would return briefly to give the people a new colt. When she didn't return one year, riders swore that they saw a black mare that greatly resembled the girl, now the mate of the spotted stallion. The book ends with a Navaho's song about his horse and Black Elk (an Oglala Sioux)?s dream about a stallion's song.
I was a little shocked that this tale never identified the tribe to which the girl belonged. Since, however, this is an original story and not a retelling of a classic Native American tale (or so the book would lead you to believe) I wasn't too perturbed by the omission. After all, when people tell stories about themselves, they rarely identify their nationality or allegiance. In this book, the girl's tribe is referred to simply as "the people". If you've ever seen a Paul Goble book before, you know what to expect when you read this. His characters are fairly featureless, though as an artist he spends a significant bit of time detailing their clothing, hair, weapons, homes, etc. He expresses a great love of color in all his pictures, and it's quite enjoyable to flip through the shots of multicolored horses. In its construction, this book is incredibly lovely. But the question that came to my mind while reading it was, how interesting will children find this tale? For those kids obsessed by horses, I think this book will go over like gangbusters. After all, as horse-love goes, this girl is an extreme example. In other ways, the book is a bit dull. When you illustrate a tale in which emotions are not visible on the characters, you're going to lose those readers that like seeing happy and sad expressions. It's a style choice on the part of the author/illustrator and while I respect it I cannot wholly recommend it.
Just the same, it's a lovely book to flip through. Just know that it is an original Native American tale and not a retelling. For every child that has imagined running away and joining a band of wild animals, this is the perfect story to read. A lovely lively concoction.
on November 29, 2014
This is a beautiful Native American tale about a young girl who loves horses so much, she is truly destined to live amongst them. Sadly, she leaves her home to become part of the herd, but gratefully her parents accept a gift if a new colt from the herd year after year. The artwork vividly embraces Native American culture, and for this it deservingly won a Caldecott Medal.
on December 4, 2001
My daughter and I just love this book. The illustrations are simply beautiful and the story is enchanting. This was one of the first books my daughter read by herself. We have read almost all of his wonderful books.