Monday, April 16, 2012
HUSH, LITTLE HORSIE by Jane Yolen
ISBN: 978-0-375-85853-6. $16.99 US
Hush, Little Horsie is a rhyming story about different foals and their mothers, who watch over them everywhere they go. Throughout the book, the refrain "And when you are tired/ She'll watch as you sleep" frames each scene of the foal and mare's experiences. A piebald mare watches her foal as it sleeps, runs, and leaps on the farm. A strawberry roan mare with a blaze down her face shades her foal from sunshine and rain on the plain. A little palomino guards her foal by the sea so its dreams can run free, and it can frolic and leap. The light bay on the moor stays close as its foal sleeps, plays, and jumps. And the blue roan watches her foal prance, then sleep in the stall. At the end of the book, however, there is a change and the final pages show a mommy reading a bedtime story to a little girl. The little girl cuddles her horsie and falls asleep to dreams of horsies while her mommy faithfully watches her sleep.
Sweet as the rhyming lines are, if it weren't for Ruth Sanderson's illustrations Hush, Little Horsie might not stand out from the traditional bed-time storybook. As it is, however, Sanderson's exquisitely detailed drawings made me check and double-check to assure myself what I was looking at weren't photos. Whether it is the other animals and scenery of the farm, or the detailed grass and wheat of the plain against the backdrop of blue mountains, I wanted to touch the places I was seeing. The palomino mare and foal frolicking in the sea weren't quite as life-like, but the view still made me smile. This is a lovely book, and the soothing words and pictures invite the listener to fall asleep--just like the little girl who clutches her pony at the end of the book.