The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses Review
Written by: Paul Goble
Illustrated by: Paul Goble
Age Range: 4 and up
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Awards: Caldecott Medal
"The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses" begins with a Native American girl who lives with her tribe. She has a natural connection with the wild horses that live near her home.
One day, she falls asleep in a field and a storm awakens her. As she is riding one of the horses, she realizes they are running with fear. She is far from home by the time the storm passes and end up in a beautiful valley. She meets a stallion who is the leader of the wild horses of the valley. The girl ends up living with the wild horses.
Two years pass, and some hunters from the girl's tribe find her. They bring more hunters from the tribe and eventually rescue her. After a time back in her village, her loving parents realize she was happier with the horses. The wild horses come to the tribe and take the girl with them, but not before the girl gives her parents a young colt and a promise to return.
The girl returns each year with a young colt for her tribe until one year she doesn't arrive. She was never seen again, though hunters saw a beautiful mare galloping next to the stallion. The hunters believe the girl finally got her wish and became a wild horse. They are thankful that one of their own is riding among the wild horses.
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What Worked For Me
The illustrations are vivid and lively. I had never seen an illustration of a reflection without the presence of water. It's a truly beautiful scene. I stayed on that page for a while marveling at it. The use of whitespace really helps the illustrations come alive.
The story is told in a simple narrative. My kids were able to follow along even though there was more text on each page than many other picture books we read together.
I enjoyed the way the story connected humanity and nature. The relationship the girl has with the wild horses ultimately brings the horses and her tribe closer together. Even after she is gone, the bridge between humanity and nature appears to remain.
The ending is very good. I wasn't sure how the story would conclude and it went in a direction I wasn't expecting. It's a sweet ending to a beautiful story.
What Didn't Work For Me
I would have liked to see the book dive into what tribe the girl belonged to. There could have been a fascinating lesson about Native American culture.
It got me curious about whether or not the story is an actual Native American tale or if the author made it up. At the time of writing this review, I have been unable to find confirmation about this. The lack of sources is unfortunate.
Here’s the metric I use: When you’re a parent and your child asks to read this book 3 or more nights in a row, how likely are you to want to jump head first through a wall?
I found that I enjoy reading the book multiple times a little more than my kids do. The story is great and my kids enjoy it, but they haven't really asked to read the book over and over again. I may need to start picking it for them from time to time.
It's a wonderful story with beautiful illustrations. The story is sweet and brings very different beings closer together. I would definitely recommend reading it to your kids, especially if they haven't had any previous exposure to Native American culture. I could see the book creating opportunities for conversation and historical education.
Give it a read and let me know what you think of it!
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