Vivian French (text), Catherine Rayner (illus). Hello, Horse, Walker Books Australia, 1 July 2018, 40pp., $27.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781406349948
The narrator of this picture book (depicted as a small child) has a friend called Catherine who owns a horse called Shannon. Catherine is keen to introduce the two, though the narrator isn’t so certain they want to meet Shannon. She seems like a very big horse, but as the story progresses and the child helps to feed, catch and groom Shannon, their confidence begins to grow. Eventually they even have a ride, and by the end of the book they feel they have made a new friend.
The Author’s Note at the end of the book explains that this is a true story – the author is the narrator and Catherine and Shannon are both real – Catherine is the illustrator of the book and Shannon is her horse. As well as the main story line, there are little sentences throughout the book that give short horse facts, and the end of the book has an index and more information about horses and horse care.
The illustrations are beautiful and tell their share of the story in pencil and water colour. As expected from an artist and horse owner, the illustrations of Shannon are especially good, and depict her body language and anatomy authentically. The only minor quibble I have is how Shannon’s eyes have been drawn – horses have large expressive eyes but the illustrator has drawn all eyes (human and equine) as small black dots, which detracts somewhat from the otherwise wonderful illustrations of Shannon.
Recommended for preschool, early primary and public libraries.
Reviewed by Rebecca Kemble