Walker Books, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99
It is very daunting meeting Catherine’s friend Shannon for the first time – because Shannon is a horse, a very big horse. But slowly and gently Catherine manages the meeting showing the little boy that even though Shannon appears huge, she’s actually very gentle and with an apple and some grooming she is very friendly. But when Catherine suggests that he ride Shannon, does he have the courage?
Part of the Nature Storybook series which includes Dingo, Koala, and Python this new addition looks at a more domesticated animal, one that is familiar to so many of our students but which can appear formidable up close because of its size. But in the company of an experienced person and armed with the information in both the narrative and the sub-text, like the boy in the story little ones will have more confidence facing their concerns and discovering one of the gentle joys of life – plodding along on the back of a horse. The story is based on the illustrator and her own horse and the detailed watercolour illustrations not only echo her familiarity with these animals but also mirror the child’s anxiety so the reader understands it.
Those readers who are already familiar with horses will enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences when the book is shared, but it could also serve as a model for discussing the dos and don’ts of dealing with other domestic pets that may seem somewhat scary to start with. It will also show that such concerns are common, not babyish, but they can be overcome by learning more.