Rocking Horse Christmas.
Mary Pope Osborne. Illustrated by Ned Bittinger.
Grades 1 - 4 / Ages 6 - 9.
Grades 1 - 4 / Ages 6 - 9.
"Watch out for glass," a man said. He knelt down.One Christmas morning, a boy finds a rocking horse beneath the tree. He names it Shadow. Together, he and Shadow ride away on many exciting adventures - to the Wild West to lasso an outlaw, to the East to joust with knights, and to Africa to go on safari. The boy even makes a little stall beside his bed and feeds Shadow hay. But as the boy grows older, he abandons the rocking horse in favour of more grown-up interests. Eventually Shadow is relegated to the attic where he stares out the window, pining for the boy. Years pass. Then one Christmas Eve, a blizzard strikes, causing the attic window to break. A boy with a lantern suddenly appears in the attic to check things out and discovers Shadow, covered with a blanket of snow. He calls to his father - Shadow's original owner - who is reunited with his dear friend. Then Shadow is lovingly carried downstairs, ready to face new adventures with "his boy's" son.
"What is it, dad?"
The man wiped the snow from Shadow's head. Shadow looked into the man's eyes and knew at once who he was.
"He's my oldest friend in the world," the man said.
This beautiful, simply-told story, reminiscent of The Velveteen Rabbit, should prove popular with young and old alike, for who, among us adults, cannot recall the special feelings evoked by the memory of a favourite childhood toy and the imaginary places we visited in play?
Bittinger's exquisite illustrations, rendered in oil on canvas, are, in many ways, similar to those in Van Allsburg's The Polar Express. Drawn from a variety of vantage points, they each cover a page and a half, with the remaining half-page reserved for the text which is printed on a soft gold background surrounded by a darker holly leaf border. In fact, the use of muted gold tones throughout the book gives the illustrations, which almost seem to glow, a unified look.
This book, with its timeless quality, is one which, like The Polar Express, begs to be read at Christmas, year after year.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, Manitoba.
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Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - JANUARY 2, 1998.
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