Review of If I Was a Horse

If I Was a Horse If I Was a Horse
by Sophie Blackall; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Little, Brown    32 pp.
10/23    9780316510981    $18.99

A horse-obsessed child imagines all the things they could do if they were a horse. “I could go anywhere I want, and I’d come home when I was hungry.” The earnest text is about a young person’s desire to have more control over their life, while Blackall’s fanciful mixed-media illustrations insert a brown and white dappled horse into a child’s world. We see the horse wearing goggles jumping into a pool at a swim meet (“and everyone would want me on their team”) and clad in a party hat and tutu marching through the living room (“I wouldn’t wear clothes, unless I was in a PARADE”). While the text is restrained, the illustrations are detailed and nuanced: a garden hose is abandoned on the lawn, a knitting bag sits on the floor, and a plunger appears next to the toilet. Pictures of horses on the child’s bedroom wall help explain that particular choice of metaphor, and there are hints of the narrator’s special bond with their younger sister. There’s a sensitive heart and a sharp eye in the humor here, creating a book that is good for more than just a laugh.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Adrienne L. Pettinelli

Adrienne L. Pettinelli is the director of the Henrietta (NY) Public Library. She has served on several book award committees, including the 2015 Caldecott Committee, and is the author of Helping Homeschoolers in the Library (2008).

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