Monday, October 22, 2007


Simon, Seymour. 2006. Horses. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060289449

Plot summary
Seymour Simon shows through this book the importance of the horse to our society. He gives the reader the "basic" information like how much a horse might weigh or the different breeds of horses, but he also examines how functional a horse is and how much humans and horses need each other.

Critical analysis

This photo essay book is visually appealing. Each page uses photographs of horses either as the background or beside the text. Sometimes there are many horses together or the picture is a silhouette of horses on the prairie or close up shots of the horse. Seymour Simon begins at the beginning "during the Ice Age" (1) to show what horses have meant to humans. When Simon discusses a horse's teeth, the accompanying photograph is a close up of a horse with its mouth wide open. The reader can see what actual horse teeth look like.

The book is organized by topic. With each turn of the page, Seymour Simon gives the reader a better understanding of horses. On one page Simon discusses the vocabulary used with horses. "A young mare is called a filly, and a young male is called a colt" (10). The sentences are simple and informative. Simon does not talk down to the reader and still is able to thoroughly explain the concepts. "The Shire is the biggest of the English coldbloods. It weighs as much as 2,200 pounds, more than the combined weight of all the students in your class" (19). Simon discuss every aspect of a horse from the look of them, how it walks, and special jobs the horse performs. "In jumping or steeplechasing competitions, horses and riders jump over barriers or obstacles" (22).

There are no page numbers which makes citations more difficult, but it also relaxes the reader to enjoy the pictures and the text. The book is colorful and lively. It invites the reader to keep turning the pages to learn more about horses.

This book does not contain any reference aids, such as a table of contents or index.

Review excerpts

BOOKLIST: "Simon has pulled together a variety of information to give children a concise but memorable, even dignified picture of the magnificent beast and how its relationship to humankind has evolved and changed."

HORN BOOK: "Although captions would have supported points in the text better, the crisp photos in the book showcase the beauty of the species."

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: "Children will pore over the photos and garner enough information from the text to make this book a popular introductory choice."


*Have a guest visitor bring a horse to school so students can see one in person (especially if in a non-rural school district). If possible, arrange for student photos with the horse. Students then write about their experience with the real horse and how this book prepared them to see one in person. What did they learn from the actual visit? What was different about the horse they saw and the ones they read about in the book?

*Create a clues game (similar to the inside flap of this book) to introduce another book by Seymour Simon. Students will have a fun time guessing what topic the next book will be. Read the book to the students.

*Other animal books by Seymour Simon:

Simon, Seymour. Spiders. ISBN 0060891033

Simon, Seymour. Big Bugs: SeeMore Readers Level 1 ISBN 1587172658

Simon, Seymour. Whales. ISBN 0060877111

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