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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stable, written and illustrated by Ted Lewin. Roaring Brook Press, 2010. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"Horses are led out the door
for trail rides. "Coming out!"
or "Going home!" they yell
in the narrow entranceway
that's only big enough for one
horse at a time. Their hooves
clip clop on the pavement as
they did a hundred years ago."

If your child loves horses (and many do!) I recommend you pick up a copy of this book. It's not too early to be thinking of Christmas and possible gifts. A horse-loving child is sure to envy those children who live near enough to Brooklyn's Kensington Stables to visit, or go for a ride.

Ted Lewin tells a simple, straightforward story of the stable's past and present. His sepia colored illustrations on the first pages tell of a time past and share the history of the horse's role in the life of the city. Their jobs were many, and they did not begin to disappear from the streets until motor vehicles could take on the work they had been doing. As the horses fade from use, the artist amps up his illustrations with color, acknowledging the changes.

This stable still has life:

"It is the last of its kind: a living, breathing, hay-burning relic of a bygone era, crowded by high-rise condos going up all around it. It is now called the Kensington Stables and is home to thirty-seven horses. To step into the stable is to step back in time."

He then puts the focus on the horses who call the stables home...their names, and the reservations that are made for children who would like the chance to take a ride. The place hums with activity, and offers soothing peace for those who know and love horses.  Children come to ride, to take lessons and even for therapy. The horses are transported to festivals, to weddings, to birthday parties, to trail rides and to street fairs. It takes a lot to keep an urban stable working and viable.

Thanks to Ted Lewin for illustrations that shine with light and detail, whether in color or not. He has given his readers a reminder of the place that horses have in our history, and how things have changed over time. His love for the stable that is close to his home in Brooklyn is evident, and his individual portraits of each of its equine occupants are positively charming.

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