Children's Literature - Melinda Medley Sprinkle
Ruby and Beryl are best friends. They meet at the park, and they each have a game in mind-the same game-Horse and Rider. But who will be the horse and who will be the rider? Best friends do think alike. They both want to be the horse. After each decides to be the horse, they soon discover two horses without riders are no fun. The girls find common ground and have a fabulous afternoon. A cast of characters introduces the reader to each star and supporting players. The girls, as well as the reader, learn that best friends do think alike, and a friendship takes effort, vivid imagination, and compromise.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2Picture books about friends who resolve their differences abound, but Reiser's use of color to tell this one makes it an unusual offering. Presented as a play, the story concerns two girls who plan an afternoon in the park; they are introduced in their respective shades: Ruby in red and Beryl in blue. The girls hatch the idea to play horse and rider, but a problem develops when both of them want to be the horse. A solution emerges when they decide that each can be both a horse and a rider. The endpapers consist of a page of vertical red stripes and a page of horizontal blue ones, and these stripes reappear in the girls' clothing in the cartoon illustrations done in Sharpie and Crayola markers. Turn the page, and the stripes have crisscrossed to form a purple-hued checkered pattern symbolic of the mingling of the two friends' ideas. The text, printed in red when Ruby speaks and in blue for Beryl, is repetitious as the girls echo one another. When their ideas coincide, the print is purple. Smaller illustrations surrounded by white space frequently resemble the outline drawings in a coloring book. Reiser's Margaret and Margarita, Margarita y Margaret (Greenwillow, 1993), another story of friendship despite differences, would be a suitable complement.Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community-Technical College, CT
In this play about playing, Reiser (Two Mice in Three Fables, 1995, etc.) provides a lesson about conflict resolution as well as a playable scenario about best friends Ruby and Beryl, who independently come up with the perfect game to play when their fathers take them to the park. Trouble is, it's the same gamehorse and riderand each wants to play the wild, tricky, beribboned horse. For a time, it's a stand-off, and Reiser's Sharpie-and-Crayola-marker art cleanly shows each girl's transformation into the headstrong horse, right down to Beryl's eyeglasses. Each girl tries to convince the other that a horse needs a rider, and when that doesn't do the trick, each determines to be both horse and rider. But this isn't right either; each girl recognizes the real problem, chorusing, "But I wanted to play with YOU!" After a cooling-off period, the girls separately devise the same solution: a new game in which two centaurs play together.
The symmetry of the piece is somewhat disconcertingby giving each girl and idea equal weight and value, the exercise is sterile and clipped instead of the emotional morass typical of most arguments. The bright, chipper look, however, will win readers; it's not hard to imagine children acting this out.