In this adaptation of a folktale from India, a young king must find a mythical hallowed horse to aid him in his battle against a diabolical snake monster. In the meantime, a simple potter has befriended a wild foal, which is in reality the hallowed horse. The potter is sad to learn that the king needs his horse, but the horse assures him that he will visit frequently. Astride the horse, the king is victorious. Demi's artwork is so schematic that it tends to distract from, rather than enhance, the book's subject. The story is dull, and her prose can be rather wooden: ``All the other horses immediately slowed their pace and then they completely stopped.'' Ages 4-9. (November)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 Long ago in India, a young king longed for a Hallowed Horse which he needed to protect his kingdom from the dreaded multi-headed snake, Kaliya. Even as the king worried, a young foal was being born, a creature who kicked up its heels and went to live with a humble potter. No one will doubt the outcome of the story, not even for a minute. The king will find the animal, and evil will be over come. The problem is resolved a little too easily, and the pleasure in the book arises not from suspense but from watching the legend unfold in pictures. The text cou pled with a small illustration appears on the left. On the right, full-page pictures dramatize the story. Stylized and power ful, they team with movement and suggest the sumptuous life of a magic kingdom. Light-hearted touches appear throughout. Angels peer out over clouds or sail through the heavens in tiny boats. Along with the whimsy, Demi conveys a sense of the sacred. Plants, animals, and man form an archway around the creature in a telling scene. The dazzling colors include metal lic gold, vermillion, pink, fuschia, soft green, bright blue. As a final charming fil lip, each double-page spread has its own brilliantly colored border on which white horses kick up their heels. Both the tale and the illustrations have a child-like qual ity that should appeal to young listeners. Ellen D. Warwick, formerly at Thompson School, Arlington, Mass.