Hello, Horse by Vivian French

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Ill. by Catherine Rayner. Nature Story Book. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406349948
(Age: 5-10) Highly recommended. Themes: Horses, Fear. Another in the highly successful and exceptionally well produced series, "Nature Story Book", comes a heart-warming story from popular author Vivian French and illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Catherine Rayner. With two such talents, the book can only be beautiful!
The little boy featured in the story meets Shannon, a big brown horse. Initially he is intimidated by the size of Shannon but Catherine reassures him that the horse is very friendly and gentle. As the story develops the boy learns much about horses and gradually overcomes his fear. By the end of the story the reader sees the little boy riding along a leafy lane.
On most double page spreads, not only is there the fiction story, but in different print, there is information about horses' behaviour, their size, what they eat and how to groom them. At the back is an index that tells the reader to look at both sets of type when finding a word, and there is a 'More Information' section.
As a lover of horses, it was immediately evident to me that the author and illustrator knew and loved horses and this was confirmed by the 'Author's Note' at the end of the book, which states that Shannon the lovely bay mare featured in the book is real and has belonged to Catherine for more than twenty years. Catherine's water colour illustrations of Shannon the horse are delightful and the horse's gentle inquisitive nature comes to life as the little boy gradually gets to know her.
This such a beautiful story that begs to be read aloud at home and in the classroom. Readers will not only learn about horses but the story would help children who are fearful of such a large animal and those familiar with horses will revel in the details found in the book.
Pat Pledger