“This is a good choice for reading aloud and for using as a springboard for discussions of folk sayings such as, “If wishes were horses, beggars might ride.” Kirkus Reviews
“This amusing twist on the traditional granted-wish-that-gets-out-of-control, motif is greatly enhanced by Sneed’s watercolor illustrations.” School Library Journal
Zeb, a boy who lives in a quiet town called Dusty Gulch, wishes for a lot of things, but they never seem to come true. When a man on a horse rides by, Zeb wishes three times for a horse of his own and, to his amazement, a horse appears right behind him. Zeb tries to tell his mother the good news, but she refuses to believe him. As Zeb starts to say, "I wish you'd believe me," a horse appears in the kitchen and tears the place apart. Now every time Zeb says, "I wish," horses pop up around him. Chaos ensues each time a horse appears. Now the town is angry with Zeb, who does not know how to get rid of the horses. Zeb must find a way to stop his wishes before they destroy the town. The only way to stop the horses is to wish his wishes would not come true. The characters and the horses capture the reader's imagination in this magical story. Because the illustrator, Brad Sneed, has traveled to remote areas on horseback, he knew exactly how Dusty Gulch should look. His amazing, bright watercolors light up the story. Sneed's patterns bring the characters to life, helping the reader become part of the town while taking the adventure with Zeb. Sharon Hart Addy's words keep the reader anxious to see what happens next. 2002, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 9 to 12.
PreS-Gr 2-This hyperbolic wishing story should appeal to young horse fanciers. Young Jeb sees a stranger on horseback and wishes he had a horse. The stranger winks and a horse appears. It is soon evident that each time Jeb utters the words "I wish," another horse, each one a different color, will appear. Jeb goes from being delighted to horrified as the number of animals mounts up. Desperate, he tries to wear out the spell by uttering wish after wish until he is surrounded by a milling herd. Finally, he wishes that his wishes would just be wishes, and the creatures disappear. This amusing twist on the traditional granted-wish-that-gets-out-of-control motif is greatly enhanced by Sneed's watercolor illustrations of lean and lanky people, an Old West town, and a spirited collection of multicolored mustangs. While Jay Williams's One Big Wish (Macmillan, 1980; o.p.) is an even more satisfying wish-gone-wrong story, young listeners should enjoy this flight of fancy.-Louise L. Sherman, formerly at Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride": what might happen if this familiar saying were true? Zeb wishes for many things: that it wasn't so hot, that it wasn't so dry, that he had a horse to help him carry a heavy sack of flour. Just as he wishes this last, a stranger rides by and tips his white Stetson hat; all of a sudden, Zeb has a horse! His mother doesn't believe him, he wishes she might react differently, and a second horse appears in her kitchen. One look at Ma's face sends boy and horse outside, where the palomino nearly tramples townswoman Mrs. Vander Snooty. Zeb promptly apologizes, but old habits die hard and he starts to say that he wished it hadn't happened, only to find another horse appearing out of nowhere. Each horse causes more trouble; each time Zeb wishes it hadn't, hilariously compounding his problems. After trying to wear out the wishing and ending up with a herd, he thinks of a solution: "I wish my wishes could just be wishes." The horses disappear, and he's happier for it. Sneed's (Picture a Letter, p. 741, etc.) watercolor illustrations recall the early American west; exaggerated facial expressions and horses running amok perfectly convey the chaos. He has a knack for perspective; when the first horse appears and Zeb is "Eye to eye with a buckskin cow pony," an enraptured Zeb's face is shown up close, next to a large, brown, equine eye. This cautionary tale, humorously told and illustrated, gets its message across gently and without didacticism. (Picture book. 4-8)