Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Equine Excellence

Their domestication is inherently tied to human history.  With their presence in our way of life, everything moved faster and more efficiently.  There are still places on this planet where transportation by horse is the quickest method of travel. (On Mackinac Island in the state of Michigan the only way to move from place to place is by walking, bicycling or by horse-drawn carriage.)

Several years ago, a master illustrator, a paper engineer, acquired a parcel of land with an old barn.  It was previously home to ten horses that lived on this property in New York's Hudson Valley.  Today with the help of a crowd funding campaign it is now the 10 Horse Art CenterTen Horse Farm (Candlewick Press, April 10, 2018) written and illustrated with breathtaking paper engineering by Robert Sabuda is a remarkable tribute to this farm and the marvelous animals who lived there.


Single words, with the exception of the final text, describe the actions of a different horse or horses in ten dazzling displays. In the first a brown horse is galloping from left to right, tail and legs extended past the boundaries of the book.  A dog races alongside the horse, tongue hanging out in total bliss.  Next, head bowed and resting, a second cream-colored horse quietly watches playful kittens in a field of flowers.

A rooster takes flight as a dark horse soars over a set of bars and off the top of the illustration.  A wind mill seems to spin high above a horse nearly blending in with rows of wheat.  Is that a goat playing tug-of-war with a horse?  Whoever washed those clothes is in for a surprise.

A tiny mouse cautiously watches a gray horse kick its legs skyward.  The entire animal is off the top of the page except for the front legs.  Two horses with markings like large spots of paint nibble on apples in communal contentment.  On the final visual Ten Horse Farm rises above the page framed by trees.  All ten horses are featured and tucked into the pastoral scene.  You'll need to turn the book to seek and find them all.

By employing the technique of a single word for each image, Robert Sabuda accomplishes several things.  He introduces and defines nine verbs for readers.  He also allows his spectacular pop-up paper engineering to extend the meaning of those words through the actions of his horses.

Whether this is your first Robert Sabuda book or your tenth-plus title, as soon as you look at the front and back of the book case, you know you are holding something extraordinary.  Notice the color of the spine and the rope detail.  On the back the picture for the word Pulling is highlighted.  We receive an invitation to notice the different horses and other animals on the farm.

Full-color resonates from every page turn.  The majesty and movement of the horses draws our attention immediately.  Presenting us with other farm creatures in some of the scenes, Robert Sabuda provides us with fun, humor and the beauty of the landscape around the farm.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is for pulling.  In this scene a horse, a Clydesdale, is pulling a farm wagon down a portion of two pathways edged with stones.  The horse is prancing at the top of the page on the right.  To the left the wagon, with wheels looking as if they are spinning, is full of all the farm animals we have seen. The rooster is crowing on the back with the mouse sitting near him.  Kittens are lounging on crates behind the goat.  The duck is attempting to fly away.  At the front the dog seems to be calling out to the horse.

Each time you turn a page and view the pop-up pictures in Ten Horse Farm written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda, you are astounded at the meticulous artwork.  Each image opens and closes with ease.  These three-dimensional masterpieces are certain to inform and entertain readers of all ages.  This title is a must have for your personal and professional book collections, especially for readers who appreciate and love horses.  (With care this volume will last multiple readings.)  This book would be wonderful paired with Tony, An Otis Christmas, If A Horse Had Words, and for older readers, Some Kind of Courage.

To learn more about Robert Sabuda and his other beautiful work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  At the publisher's website you can view an interior image.  I know you will enjoy this book trailer.

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