CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1979
by Paul Goble
Simon & Schuster, 1978
Interests: horses, First Nations legends, folktales
Also by this author: Mystic Horse, The Great Race of the Birds and Animals, Star Boy, Death of the Iron Horse, Buffalo Woman, The Gift of the Sacred Dog, Song of Creation, and many others
A girl spends all her spare time with the horses of her tribe, feeding and caring for them. One day there is a sudden, terrible storm. The girl jumps on the back of one of the horses just as the whole herd starts to stampede, galloping far away from home. They find themselves in the far-off hills, where a magnificent stallion appears. He is the king of the wild horses and invites them to join his herd. The girl is delighted to live with the wild horses. After a year her people find her and bring her home, but she convinces them that she will only be happy if allowed to live with the wild horses forever. The tribe agrees and shower gifts upon the wild horses. It is thought that after many years the girl finally turned into a wild horse herself.
This story follows a common theme among Native American legends, that of the human girl who goes to live with animals. (Ie. The Frog Princess; a Tlingit Legend from Alaska.) This story is particularly satisfying because there is no strife between human and horse. (Typically the girl’s father declares war on the animals, who retaliate, etc etc.) This book is a peaceful one, focussing on the affection and admiration the Plains Indians had for their horses.
A natural book for dreamy girls who love horses, with unique, flowing and lyrical illustrations inspired by traditional First Nations art. (Paul Goble is an Englishman, but moved to South Dakota and was adopted by a Plains tribe.)