Wonder Horse (Hardcover)

The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse

By Emily Arnold McCully, Emily Arnold McCully (Illustrator)

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 9780805087932, 32pp.

Publication Date: June 22, 2010

List Price: 17.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Summer 2010 Kids' Next List

“Bill Key loved animals. He was born a slave, but after emancipation he became a vet, believing that kindness was the only way to treat our four-legged friends. When his beloved mare dies, he is so distraught that he cannot even take care of the new colt. But it turns out that Jim Key is a very unusual horse. Based on a real story, Caldecott winner McCully brings this bit of American history to life!”
— Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT
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Description

In the late 1800s, former slave and veterinarian Bill "Doc" Key realized that his new foal, Jim, was no ordinary horse. Believing in the power of kindness and patience, Doc taught Jim to spell, recognize the primary colors, and even make change from a cash register!

Performing in shows across the country, Jim stunned audiences with his incredible skills. But when some people called Jim a fake, Doc set out to prove them wrong and to show the world that, thanks to the power of kindness and patience, Jim was truly a wonder horse.

Caldecott Medalist Emily Arnold McCully's account of this fascinating, true story comes alive in her striking illustrations.Wonder Horse is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.



About the Author

I was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1939, but grew up in Garden City, New York. My father was a writer/producer of network radio shows, and my mother had been an actress and singer. Noticing that I was trying to draw people and objects, my mother once said to me, "Why don't you practice that and get it right?" She saw a talent to be developed so that I could support myself when I grew up.

As a child, I doodled and sketched and created my own stories, binding them into books. As class artist in school, I designed posters, backdrops, and programs for concerts and plays. I often visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and sketched people sitting on benches in Union Square. The city fueled my ambitions for an active life in the arts, theater, and publishing.

I attended Pembroke College (now part of Brown University), majoring in art history and acting in plays. I also collaborated on an award-winning musical. For years, people stood around me as I drew, marveling that I could reproduce someone or something. If art was a performance, I wanted to try out other roles.

After graduation, I worked as a mat cutter in an advertising agency and earned an M.A. in art history at Columbia University. Realizing I had no future in the advertising agency, I put together a portfolio of drawings and took it around to art directors. Gradually, jobs trickled in, mostly for book covers. Finally, an editor at Harper & Row Junior Books spotted a poster I had done that featured children. I received my first book illustration assignment, which led to another, and so on.

Meanwhile, I wrote fiction and published a short story that was selected for the O. Henry Collection. It was followed by two novels. I was able to try acting again when the chance arose to audition for a friend's play. It opened in Albany and moved to Off Broadway in New York. It was a wonderful experience, but I knew I had to go back to books. I have now written or illustrated more than two hundred books for children.

My advice for aspiring artists and writers is this: You can't aim to please other people. Do what matters most to you, then hope readers respond.

I believe that books, rather than be palliative or merely instructive, should stir the imagination. I share Isaac Bashevis Singer's belief that children's books are the last refuge of storytelling.

Emily Arnold McCully divides her time between New York City and upstate New York. She has won many awards for her children's books, including the Caldecott Medal for Mirette on the High Wire.



I was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1939, but grew up in Garden City, New York. My father was a writer/producer of network radio shows, and my mother had been an actress and singer. Noticing that I was trying to draw people and objects, my mother once said to me, "Why don't you practice that and get it right?" She saw a talent to be developed so that I could support myself when I grew up.

As a child, I doodled and sketched and created my own stories, binding them into books. As class artist in school, I designed posters, backdrops, and programs for concerts and plays. I often visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and sketched people sitting on benches in Union Square. The city fueled my ambitions for an active life in the arts, theater, and publishing.

I attended Pembroke College (now part of Brown University), majoring in art history and acting in plays. I also collaborated on an award-winning musical. For years, people stood around me as I drew, marveling that I could reproduce someone or something. If art was a performance, I wanted to try out other roles.

After graduation, I worked as a mat cutter in an advertising agency and earned an M.A. in art history at Columbia University. Realizing I had no future in the advertising agency, I put together a portfolio of drawings and took it around to art directors. Gradually, jobs trickled in, mostly for book covers. Finally, an editor at Harper & Row Junior Books spotted a poster I had done that featured children. I received my first book illustration assignment, which led to another, and so on.

Meanwhile, I wrote fiction and published a short story that was selected for the O. Henry Collection. It was followed by two novels. I was able to try acting again when the chance arose to audition for a friend's play. It opened in Albany and moved to Off Broadway in New York. It was a wonderful experience, but I knew I had to go back to books. I have now written or illustrated more than two hundred books for children.

My advice for aspiring artists and writers is this: You can't aim to please other people. Do what matters most to you, then hope readers respond.

I believe that books, rather than be palliative or merely instructive, should stir the imagination. I share Isaac Bashevis Singer's belief that children's books are the last refuge of storytelling.

Emily Arnold McCully divides her time between New York City and upstate New York. She has won many awards for her children's books, including the Caldecott Medal for Mirette on the High Wire.



Praise For Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse

“This book is sure to grab young readers…. McCully’s signature watercolors make this title as beautiful as it is fun to read, and its humane message is an important one” —Starred, School Library Journal

“Caldecott Medalist McCully's storytelling is as sensitive, engaging, and well paced as her brightly colored, expressive artwork, which highlights the period setting as well as the remarkable friendship between man and horse…A winsome celebration of an extraordinary man and the immeasurable effects of kindness.” —Starred, Booklist

“Young animal lovers will appreciate this as a readaloud as well as a readalone.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“In McCully's signature watercolors, Doc and Jim become livelier versions of their portraits in a reproduced photo, while the pre-industrial setting and its rural inhabitants are realized at their bucolic best.” —Horn Book Magazine

“McCully's liquid illustrations make this book a delight to look at and invest Jim with considerable personality.” —Kirkus Reviews