Sunday, May 6, 2012


Yesterday was Derby Day in Kentucky and I was there, hat and all! While it was fun to people-watch, the horses were the real stars.

Most children have some real life experience with horses. From pony rides at birthday parties, to field trips on a farm, we can see and touch them.

There is something romantic about them too. Maybe it's the princess mode of transportation thing, or their big, big eyes.

As beloved as they are, it's not an easy task to find a picture book that features both a wonderful horse character and beautiful illustrations of those. Here's one that hits the mark.

Everything but the Horse by Holly Hobbie is a story from the author's own life. Like many little girls, she longs for a horse to call her own. Her family says no, but Holly can't believe it, especially with her birthday right around the corner.

The illustrations are true to her style, one that I find endearing. The pen and ink and watercolor paintings are as gentle as the story, and fit the rural setting beautifully.

There is a surprise at the end of the story. Some folks find it disappointing, but I disagree. It is both fitting and a good thing to share with children. I believe the sense of gratitude at the conclusion of the book is the best part!

Fine Motor Extension Idea:
Tracing Horseshoes
Materials needed: paper, pencils or markers, scissors, and horseshoes (we used real ones, but if they're not readily available in your area, you could cut stencils from heavy paper stock)
Procedure: Set out supplies and allow children time to practice tracing around the horseshoes, color them in with markers, and cut them out
The weight of the horseshoes helps to keep them in place.
It takes concentration to work around the curved shape when tracing and again when cutting. Eye-hand coordination and pencil grasp are both practiced in this activity.

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