Monday, October 11, 2010
Non-Fiction Monday Book Review: Stable, by Ted Lewin (Roaring Brook Press, 2010)
Release date: October 12, 2010
It's easy for us to forget, in our high tech, 21st century world, how integral horses were to all aspects of life just a century ago. Ted Lewin's newest picture book takes us back to a simpler time long ago in Brooklyn, when "horses did just about everything." With his wonderfully nostalgic sepia toned painted illustrations, he shows us how horses took people to the beach, pulled trolleys, milk wagons, and fire engines, and even, on occasion, pulled other horses.
But even though most of the horses are gone, one old stable remains in Brooklyn, one of the last remaining in such an urban setting and home to thirty-seven horses (who are lovingly depicted in individual portraits at the conclusion of the book).
What do these Brooklyn horses do? Through a combination of simple text and heartwarming illustrations which now have sprung into vivid color, Lewin depicts the various residents of Kensington Stables being used for riding lessons, trail rides, or sent off to birthday parties and street fairs. But perhaps best of all, the horses offer love; Lewin writes, "They like to say here, 'When something bothers you, go in a stall and hug a horse.'"
The book concludes with a poignant question: as the little stable is surrounded by more and more high rise condo developments, "what will become of these horses and the people who love them if the wrecker's ball finally comes?"
In an afterword, the author, who lives in Brooklyn with his wife, author/illustrator Betsy Lewin (illustrator of one of my all-time favorite picture books, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows Who Type, among others), points out that in 1880, New York City and Brooklyn were home to over 180,000 horses. There are now fewer than 500, although hitching posts can still be found throughout the city.
This book will certainly charm horse lovers of all ages; the text is easy to read and is simple enough that it could be read aloud to children as young as preschool age. The beautiful, warm illustrations will inspire all readers with nostalgia for the days when horses ruled the streets! I am convinced this title will jump off library and bookstore shelves, and will be a favorite with young ones at home as well.