Cover image for If I had a horse
If I had a horse
If I had a horse
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publisher Info:
New York, New York : Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, [2018]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 x 29 cm
General Note:
"A Neal Porter book"--title page.
If I had a horse, he might be shy, like me. But if I stayed quiet, he'd learn to be my friend. I would have to tame him. I would have to be strong, like him. And he would have to be gentle, like me. And together, we could do anything.


Call Number
Material Type
E MARINO New or Popular Picture Book

On Order



If I had a horse, he might be shy, like me.But if I stayed quiet, he'd learn to be my friend.I would have to tame him. I would have to be strong, like him. And he would have to be gentle, like me.And together, we could do anything.Gianna Marino's vibrant, silhouetted art brings to life this picture book about understanding, stepping beyond boundaries, and bravery.

Author Notes

Gianna Marino has written and illustrated numerous articles for travel and leisure magazines. Her children's books include Zoopa: An Animal Alphabet, One Too Many, Meet Me at the Moon, Too Tall Houses, and Following Papa's Song.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Many children dream of riding and owning a horse; perhaps this is related to the wish for wings, since the speed and relative height achieved when galloping comes about as close as one can get to flying. This book is made for living that fantasy vicariously. Employing silhouettes against ethereal, misty landscapes, Marino's gouache spreads take readers through a range of sentiments as horse and girl develop their relationship. It starts tentatively with an outstretched hand and an apple on a monochromatic (red) spread, the two figures on opposite sides of the gutter. As they get acquainted, the sky is rendered in yellow, while the background and foreground images are layered yellow/blue/green. Hair and mane are windblown throughout, a choice that adds energy to the compositions, as does the movement of the animal. After a fall, the child realizes: "I would have to be strong. Like him./He would have to be gentle. Like me." Together they explore and race, while the rider contemplates the thrill of the wind and the bond with such a powerful animal. In the final spread, she is standing on his back, arms outstretched as they disappear off the page. A restrained, compact text allows the high-spirited pictures to pull listeners into the experience, feeling their own emotions as they ride along. VERDICT An invigorating opportunity for individuals or groups to participate in a glorious moment-inside out.-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a wistful and hopeful voice, a girl imagines the possibilities that could come from having a horse. The two could learn from each other ("I would have to be strong. Like him. He would have to be gentle. Like me") and, after getting to know each other, become friends ("We would explore places we've never been"). The repetition of the phrase "If I had a horse" pulls readers forward, but Marino (Splotch) keeps the story's energy subdued. Using watery washes of color, she depicts girl and horse in silhouettes that stretch across the pages, placing them against gestural backdrops of waving grass, towering trees, and distant pine-studded hills. As the book progresses, the illustrations shift from warm reds, yellows, and oranges to cool greens, blues, and violets, suggesting morning becoming midday, then night. Marino's silhouettes should make it easy for readers to imagine themselves in the story, a contemplative tribute to children's deeply felt desires for a pet and how one's imagination can almost bring those fantasies to life. Ages 4-8. Agent: Deborah Warren, East-West Literary. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a girl imagines what it would be like to have a horse. She would offer him a big apple. And while he might be shy at first, he would become a friend and, eventually, let her ride him. I would have to be strong. / Like him. / He would have to be gentle. / Like me. Together, they would ride off to explore new places. And together . . . we could do anything. In the artwork, the girl transforms from a timid child to a confident one, standing on the running horse's back. Besides showing growing connection between the characters, the artwork creates striking effects with overlapping layers of washes, creating a dreamlike sense of depth and mystery in the shadowy scenes. Colors are often limited in individual illustrations: one is painted using washes of reds with varying shades and intensity, while another highlights the characters in shades of green, set against a background painted in yellows. This idyllic picture-book reverie will captivate children who dream of horses.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2017 Booklist