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I Sea Horses

by Dawn Van Zant

      I Sea Horses is an imaginative story of a pack of wild horses who decide to take up residence in the sea. At first, most of the horses are wary of moving to such a different environment, "A rust colored mare declared in a shrill/ 'Oh my goodness some day I might have to grow gills!/ What will happen to my coat and my mane in the sea?/ I'll be all tangled and weedy, it's too messy for me!" However, after everyone gives voice to their fears, they agree to follow their leader, and subsequently, become colorful sea horses.

       While the premise of the story is cute and makes for a great children's book, the execution does not live up the unique and fun story line. Told in rhymed couplets, a difficult and often dangerous format for authors, the rhymes are often highly contrived and forced. "Could it be that they wished for a new home to be free?/ Could it be they could see the future of wild horses to be?"

     The illustrations, done by the author's teenage daughter, are great and lend a fabulous representation of the characters to the text. It proves that young people can be successful, and I was happy to see that her artwork was quite good. She uses great colors and contrast, however, her wonderful illustrations have been cropped to fit into small circles (bubbles) that only grace every few pages. There are several spreads with no artwork at all, other than a bubbly blue and gray background. The bubbly background was a cute idea, but it doesn't complement the text and will probably not hold the interest of the small children whom this text is created for.

     Overall, the coolest feature of this book is the back cover. It contains photos of the plush sea horse toys that correspond to each sea horse character from the book. There is also information about real sea horses and how to protect them.

      I feel that this story has great potential that could be more fully realized by allowing Callan Van Zant's art work to hold a more prominent position in the book to make this a true picture book. The story is fantastic and takes everyone on a fun journey into the imagination. There is also an underlying message that even though it can be scary to try to new things, if you have courage, you may just find that new things can be fun.

The Book

Wild Heart Ranch Books
Fantasy picture book
More at Publisher's Web Site

The Reviewer

Sarah Lomas
Reviewed 2005
© 2005