We Need a Horse

Overview

A speckled horse wonders why he was made a horse. Can the sassy sheep, who claims to be a good tennis player, help him find understanding? And wait a minute: How can that sheep even play tennis if she doesn't have hands? Perhaps the bright light holds answers. Or the talking apple. Or the singing grass.

We Need a Horse, the first children's book from author Sheila Heti and painter Clare Rojas, asks big questions with a gentle hand. We Need a Horse is a timeless book for quiet ...

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Overview

A speckled horse wonders why he was made a horse. Can the sassy sheep, who claims to be a good tennis player, help him find understanding? And wait a minute: How can that sheep even play tennis if she doesn't have hands? Perhaps the bright light holds answers. Or the talking apple. Or the singing grass.

We Need a Horse, the first children's book from author Sheila Heti and painter Clare Rojas, asks big questions with a gentle hand. We Need a Horse is a timeless book for quiet moods, and makes especially good reading for anyone who likes to ask "Why?"

As a double bonus, the book's jacket is reversible, and also unfurls into a large square poster that invites the reader to fall into Rojas's quietly majestic artwork.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this subtle existential meditation, newcomer Heti imagines a dreamlike landscape in which big questions are gently asked, and just as gently answered. "What is the reason I was made a horse and not some other animal?" a horse asks a bright light that appears. "Because we needed another horse," is the reply. Humor lightens the proceedings—the horse befriends a sheep with a tennis racket tied around her middle—but the horse's search for meaning is at the center of Heti's message: everything in the world, whether animate or inanimate, has purpose, created to bring joy to someone or something else. When the horse lies down in the grass, the grass sings to him; when the horse walks in the darkness, the darkness says, "Thank you for accompanying me.... I am always nervous on this journey, and I hate to go alone." Rojas's animals, with their guarded expressions and stylized postures, have the static quality of folk art, yet the overall sensibility is fresh, even futuristic. The dust jacket, printed on luxuriously heavy paper, unfolds to reveal poster-sized reproductions of the book's artwork. All ages. (July)
School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up—A speckled steed walks through a field and asks the light why he was made a horse and not another animal. The light answers, "Because we needed another horse." He encounters a sheep with a tennis racket strapped to her back who is unhappy that she was not made a human, but is satisfied when the horse says he likes her. He goes on to find an apple and says, "I guess they needed to make an apple…so I could come along and eat it." To which the apple replies, "I guess they needed to make this horse, so she could come and eat me." The horse sits down in the grass, which sings a song. Finally, the darkness comes to take the horse away, and he is not scared or lonely, for now he understands everything. Heti's confusing exercise in existentialism will not appeal to children, and the implication of death will not be easy for an adult to explain. The text in this oversize book may attempt to impart some kind of mystical knowledge, but the message is too abstract to make any sense. Rojas's static pictures of pointy animals and uninteresting backgrounds look more sinister than endearing. A book with no definite audience.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
Kirkus Reviews

A fine example of the worst that can happen when adultnovelists condescend to write for children.

Heti (Ticknor, 2006, etc.) presents a horse who asks "the light," "What is the reason I was made a horse and not some other animal?" The light replies, "Because we needed another horse." The horse then meets an unhappy sheep with a tennis racket strapped to her back; she claims she is good at tennis and did not like the light's telling her she was supposed to be a sheep.But the horse likes the sheep, and that makes the sheep happy.Then the horse eats an apple, which makes the apple happy, then the grass sings in verse...at the end the horse dies, or doesn't, or something, but by that point it would be hard to imagine thechild reader who might care. The muddled mysticismis joined bya complete absence of characterization, story arc, conflict or basic understanding of what comprises a picture book. The bold graphic paintings from muralist Rojas are equally arbitrary and unsuccessful.The pointy-nosed, almond-eyed horse withits Farrah Fawcett mane looks like a (black) fox in drag.The sheep looks like a chinchilla.

As John J Muth's sublime Zen Shorts (2005) proved, philosophy is not inimical to this age group—but, by golly, thistitle is.(Picture book. Adult)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936365401
  • Publisher: McSweeney's Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/12/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheila Heti is the author of several books of fiction, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, n+1, Bookforum, The Guardian, and other places.

Clare Rojas is a painter living in San Francisco.

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