When the Horses Ride By

By School Library Journal

Combining 17 rhythmic poems with dramatic illustrations, this title addresses a complex topic. Greenfield’s deceptively simple verses express universal truths about both conflict and childhood. The introductory piece, ‘I Think I Know,’ offers an innocent explanation of the causes of war, much like a playground scuffle. Other selections highlight moments such as a parade of battle-ready warriors in ancient Egypt, a shell-shocked father’s return from the American Revolution, and a young artist who tries to hold onto dreams despite the effects of combat in Iraq. The final poem summarizes the book’s message: ‘We are surrounded by love,/taking us through/the danger days… We are the children. . . still.’ Gilchrist’s artwork captures the intensity of the verses, depicting conflicts from different historical periods and locations, as well as typical childhood pursuits. The spreads employ a combination of line-and-wash paintings, charcoal sketches, and photographs, and the use of collage underscores the sense of war’s effects being superimposed on a youngster’s world. This special book, which needs to be introduced and placed in context by an adult, makes a great starting point for discussion.
Wars as far back as ancient China and as current as this century’s conflict in Iraq are viewed from a child’s perspective. Brief, but thought-provoking, free verse poems are mirrored by evocative collage illustrations. A gentle way to begin a dialogue on a very serious subject.