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Marilynn Reynolds
Illustrated by Stephen McCallum
Victoria, Orca Book Publishers, 1993. 32pp, doth, $14.95
ISBN 0-920501-90-7. CIP

Grades 1 to 3/Ages 6 to 8

Reviewed by Catherine McInerney.

Volume 21 Number 4
1993 September

A classic story about a little girl and her horse set on the Canadian prairies in the twenties. Molly rides her aging plough horse Belle to piano lessons once a week. As the horse begins to lose its usefulness to the farm, Molly feels disloyal for wishing for a new pony.

Then one day Molly and Belle are caught in a sudden prairie snowstorm, and Belle proves her worth by finding her way home. After that "Molly's father never talked about selling Belle again" and the horse is retired to pasture.

While this story is not new, this version adds wonderful pencil crayon drawings of the prairie. In the snowstorm scenes we can see how the storm builds and the wind increases in every line of the drawings. When Belle and Molly return home, the warmth and security are emphasized by the yellow glow of light in the illustrations.

Because the chosen typeface is very small, large areas of the page are blank. This works well on the illustrated pages, but leaves a lot of blank space unevenly balanced on the other pages. The text is also quite close together, and might be difficult for a beginning picture-book reader. Larger type and double spacing would have made the layout more balanced and readable.

This book would be very compatible with a study of pioneer or prairie life.


Catherine McInerney is a children's librarian with St. Catharines Public Library in St. Catharines, Ontario.
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