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Children's LiteratureYears ago, near the sea, Chestnut the horse pulls the wagon for Mr. Decker's delivery service. On the morning of the birthday of the mayor's daughter Jenny, after the wagon is loaded, Mr. Decker falls asleep. When the ringing of the tower clock and Chestnut's impatient stamps and whinnies fail to wake him, Chestnut sets out by himself to deliver the important items for Jenny's birthday. Despite the fog and mud, Chestnut finds his way to the baker to give him the flour he needs to bake the birthday cake, to the hat maker with the ribbons to finish Jenny's bonnet, to the candy maker with sugar, and finally to Jenny's with the punch bowl and her presents. No one even notices that he is alone. Mr. Decker is pleased and proud of his clever horse. And the party, of course, is a big success. The warm-hearted, gentle story is suitably matched by Whyte's subtle naturalistic watercolors. The double-page scenes catch the spirit of a 19th century seacoast town with cobblestone streets, sailing ships in the harbor, and the white-steepled church. Chestnut is portrayed with special sensitivity in images from various perspectives, even a birds-eye view as he takes off alone. 2004, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz