CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 5. . . .October 7, 2016
The Riddle Horse is a unique and engaging children’s picture book by well-renowned illustrator Mark Summers whose artwork of famous figures has graced the pages of such prominent magazines as Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone and has been featured on United States postage stamps. Summers’ distinctive illustrative style, which has earned him the prestigious Society of Illustrator’s Hamilton King Award for best illustration of the year in 2000, shines through in The Riddle Horse, providing an intricate, visual originality that is rarely observed in literature for children. At the story’s commencement, a question is presented which serves as the main riddle to be solved: “What horse am I?”. During the course of the book, readers are introduced to a string of clues through illustrations of horses and accompanying text written in a riddle-like format.
Summers offers a pleasant array of illustrations with some depicting famous political and historical figures on horses and others taking on a more mythical tone. Horses are also presented without rider, which cleverly adds complexity to the mystery of the riddle. Summers’ use of scratchboard, a complex medium which is seldom applied in picture books, is an aesthetic treat for the eyes, and younger audiences will undoubtedly be intrigued by its distinguishing, pixel-like appearance. While some illustrations are framed with borders, others remain borderless and bleed into the utmost edges of the page. This contrast in presentation is a delightful touch which allows the eye to move effortlessly between the pictures.
Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON., where she is researching children’s literature.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.