When the Horses Ride By

By Edge of the Forest

This collection of poetry for children ages 6–11 explores the themes of childhood during wartime. Poems set in historical periods from Ancient China to the modern conflict in Iraq show children hanging onto their dreams in the most terrible of situations. The voice of the child rings clear; they are missing fathers, wondering why everyone’s mad, flinging wishes across the hills. Greenfield speaks from her own child’s heart and reveals the treasures of innocent hope: ‘When the horses ride by/with men on their backs/we pretend they’re going/anyplace, but war./We tell each other stories:/They’re on their way /to save somebody lost… ‘ Jan Spivey Gilchrist’s illustrations are a collage of photographs mixed with line-and-wash paintings and charcoal sketches. The children’s faces show joy, wonder, sadness and fear. They say “Wherever we are,/we search for a place/to be unafraid./ Wherever we are.” The children in your life who are watching the daily news of our current war will want to pour over these poems and illustrations within the comfort of your lap. There are no answers here, but we are given openings for wonder and mourning and hope. This is a book to pull out and share in the difficult times, when war news is all around us and songs are needed.