Arno and His Horse

Scribble US. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781950354467.
K-Gr 2–Arno’s favorite toy is the small, wooden horse carved just for him. “It had big eyes, a peaceful face, [and] made Arno’s mind feel light.” It reminds Arno of his beloved grandfather and the stories he used to share of days long past. Arno brings the horse with him everywhere, “but did he bring it back?” He did not, and so the search begins. Arno, along with his friends and family, who range from pale to dark brown, search the river banks, their clubhouse, the playground, the grocery store, and the playing fields. Night falls without Arno’s horse, but in his dreams he asks his grandfather to bring it back to him. Arno awakens and races to the horse, a little worse for wear. Godwin’s mostly rhyming text is brought to life by Sala’s deeply evocative illustrations which expand the story. There is much searching, but also much playing, great facial expressions, and varied scenery. The Australian landscape is a character all its own, while Arno’s dreamscapes are depicted in a palette of blues, purples, and yellows that make them easy to distinguish from reality.
VERDICT A missing favorite toy fuels a search and success, and is sure to resonate with all those who have had a toy disappear. Pair with Knuffle Bunny for a themed story time.

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