For horse-loving readers of all ages, a lyrical and exquisitely illustrated picture book following the relationship between a boy and a horse, separated then reunited. This is a story about enduring friendships and how language is shaped by our experiences.
The foal is born on a spring morning of sunshine and snow melt. If she had words, she would say willow, crocus, puddle and sky . . .
Red Badger is a newborn foal learning to stand when she slips and gets stuck in a muddy badger hole. It is a young boy who frees her, and his kindness and gentleness mark the beginning of their friendship -- though she will always be wary of the ground that briefly trapped her. As the seasons pass on the ranch, Red Badger learns more about her world: Fall is leaf rustle and fence posts. Winter is white hills and long nights. The boy is hay, a gentle touch, playing in the snow and the sweet smell of peppermints. If a horse had words, the word would be . . . friend.
This is a beautifully written and heartwarming story told from the horse's point of view that follows her relationship with a boy from the day she is born, to when she is sent to auction, to the day she and the boy are reunited at a rodeo where she has become a bronc and he a cowboy.
In her first book for children, Canadian author Cooper offers a tale of a foal and her boy that blends the scope of a novel with the grace of a poem. Born on a spring morning, the foal tries out her long legs and sinks into a badger hole, from which she's hauled out by a man and his freckled, cowboy-hatted companion: "If a horse had words," Cooper writes, in a phrase that serves as the story's title and leitmotif, "the word would be... boy." Boy and foal watch the seasons change contentedly together until one day, the boy tries to ride her, and she tosses him. She has to go, the man says, and, in a wrenching moment, she's auctioned off. But she meets the boy again in a triumphant moment that redeems their separation. Cooper's lilting voice dances through the story, while folk-naive watercolors by Eldridge, in her picture-book debut, capture the foal's lovely lines. Readers drawn to stories about the unbreakable bonds between children and animals will remember this one. Ages 4 8.