March 28, 2017

A Horse Named Steve

Written and illustrated by Kelly Collier
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-8
April 2017

Steve is a horse who wants to be exceptional.  When he finds a golden horn in the woods, he attaches it by string to his head, convinced it will make him very special. As Steve parades it in front of his miscellaneous animal friends, cooing about how fancy he is and how ordinary everyone else is, the horn begins to slip from his head until it’s hanging around his neck.  As the other animals begin attaching random embellishments like a branch, an acorn, a mushroom, or a leafy twig to their own heads, Bob the raccoon reveals to Steve that there is no beautiful gold horn on the horse’s head.  Steve starts to panic, searching everywhere and crying despairingly.  When he is convinced that his horn has fallen into the water, Steve demonstrates the lengths to which he’ll go to be considered distinct, revealing more about his desire for individuality than it does for his need for celebrity.
From A Horse Named Steve 
by Kelly Collier
There is definitely a Mélanie Watt Scaredy Squirrel tone to A Horse Named Steve, primarily because of Kelly Collier’s ridiculously self-absorbed horse, sidebar comments throughout the multi-fonted text, and the awkward relationships between Steve and his cohorts.  But A Horse Named Steve is as unique as Steve himself wants to be.  Few characters are a blend of Steve’s ludicrousness and wretchedness so evident in his pursuit, especially since he is convinced that a golden horn will fulfil that need.  But Steve is more childish than mean, craving attention and not knowing how to get it in a positive way.  Kelly Collier’s story reminds us how much the world is driven by individuals desiring fame and celebrity when their uniqueness would serve them better in highlighting their exceptionalities.

A Horse Named Steve is a quirky story about a horse who doesn’t realize how original he already is, and Kelly Collier’s illustrations are as eccentric as he is.  With simple lines and very few colours (black and white with beige), Kelly Collier both pokes fun at her characters, whose distinct facial expressions share hidden meaning, and society in general while amusing young readers with the absurdity of Steve’s passion for a distinction he already has.  They’ll laugh at his silliness but I hope they’ll appreciate his differences as hallmarks of extraordinariness.
From A Horse Named Steve 
by Kelly Collier

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