The Girl on the High Diving Horse

Overview

Ivy Cordelia is plain lucky. It's the summer of 1936, and she gets to stay in Atlantic City all summer long, where there's so much to see: boxing kangaroos, human cannonballs, card-playing cats . . . and high-diving horses! If there's anyone luckier than she is, it must be the girl on the high-diving horse, who daily performs her dangerous-looking act while the crowd cheers. Ivy's dream is to be that girl. But could she ever be that brave?

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Overview

Ivy Cordelia is plain lucky. It's the summer of 1936, and she gets to stay in Atlantic City all summer long, where there's so much to see: boxing kangaroos, human cannonballs, card-playing cats . . . and high-diving horses! If there's anyone luckier than she is, it must be the girl on the high-diving horse, who daily performs her dangerous-looking act while the crowd cheers. Ivy's dream is to be that girl. But could she ever be that brave?

The spun-candy-and-sea-spray world of the Atlantic City boardwalk in the 1930s once again comes powerfully to life under the nostalgic artistry of Ted Lewin and Linda Oatman High.

Illustrated by Ted Lewin.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The mere idea of horses that dive could be enough to pique most readers' interest; fortunately, High and Lewin (previously paired for Winter Shoes for Shadow Horse) communicate more than a novelty subject. Their strong sense of time and place-Atlantic City in 1936-permeates every page. Eight-year-old Ivy Cordelia is thrilled to join her father, a photographer, when he spends the summer taking pictures on the boardwalk. She revels in the boxing kangaroos, human cannonballs and, most of all, the horses that, proudly ridden by pretty girls in bathing suits, high-dive into a tank. The girl fantasizes about making the jump herself and, at summer's end, her dream comes true. Like the images in old hand-tinted postcards, Lewin's detailed watercolors blend sepia tones with selective splashes of color. In contrast to the vintage content, Lewin's presentation involves an arresting, up-to-date juxtaposition of cropped "photos," silhouettes and full-bleed illustrations. Oatman effectively articulates for youngsters the summer mecca of the 1930s (the hotel is a "castle-shaped place rising pink and high as a sunrise into blue New Jersey sky") as well as the classic romance of girls and horses. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Young Ivy Cordelia takes us back to the summer of 1936, which she and her father spend at Atlantic City. He is a photographer, while she is along to enjoy the beach and the sights along the boardwalk. She is excited the most by the diving horses. With a young girl riding, the horse dives from a high platform into a tank of water. Her father photographs the two sisters who do the dives. Before she has to go sadly back to Philadelphia at the end of the summer, Ivy Cordelia has the thrill of riding behind one of the sisters on a dive. Ten years later, she herself is doing the diving. Lewin replicates the look of the colored postcards of that time, as he paints the details of the attractions on the boardwalk, the beach and hotels, and of course many action shots of horse and riders. The brief text supplies names, dates, and our heroine's wishful thinking, but it's Rand's tinted photos that tell the full, engaging story. Notes by both author and illustrator fill in both additional facts and personal notes about the story. 2003, Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-In 1936, a girl and her father, a professional photographer, spend a summer in Atlantic City, NJ. As they stroll the boardwalk, they are greeted by amazing sights, from card-playing cats to boxing kangaroos. However, to Ivy Cordelia, nothing is more wondrous than the high-diving horses and their riders. She meets the two sisters, Arnette and Sonora, who care for and ride the animals, and they let Ivy help them. At the end of August, the child dreads leaving the horses, but has her dream come true. Arnette lifts her on to Red Lips, gets on herself, and they dive into the tank below. This gently told story captures a small piece of history that must have created unforgettable memories for those who visited the Steel Pier. The muted tones of the illustrations are reminiscent of old postcards. Juxtaposed next to full-page pictures are drawings that look like the snapshots Ivy's father was taking. The expressive artwork and heartwarming text seamlessly come together to create a worthy tribute to these remarkable young women and their brave steeds.-Carol Schene, Taunton Public Schools, MA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The attention-grabbing title, the intriguing cover, and the scene-setting subtitle will compel readers to take a look inside. Once there, they will be transported to Atlantic City, 1936, where Ivy Cordelia thinks she is the luckiest girl in the world. This is where she will spend the summer while her father takes photographs of the boardwalk. Best of the attractions-boxing kangaroos, card-playing cats, daredevils sitting on flagpoles, dancing tigers, sand artists, and human cannonballs-are the high-diving horses. Every day Ivy watches as a pretty teenaged girl in helmet and bathing suit sits astride a horse high on a platform and they plunge into a tank of water. Ivy is only eight, but she dreams of being one of those girls. The immediacy of the first-person voice and the magnetic force of the scenes are totally engaging, attributable, perhaps, to the fact that both author and illustrator have childhood experiences from Atlantic City (as explained in notes from each). Lewin's (Tooth and Claw, p. 235, etc.) note also describes how he created his illustrations in the style of linen postcards that were popular then by first making black-and-white paintings and then applying thin washes of color. The result is his familiar detailed realistic artwork with images that fully evoke the sights, stunts, and sounds of the place and time. Excellent page composition incorporates animation and movement into the panorama. The story and illustrations fuse together, placing readers at the scene and making them wish they were there, delightfully capturing the thrill of a unique time and place. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399236495
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 4/14/2003
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.56 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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