Review sponsored by Steven Layne
The Children’s Book Review | January 20, 2016
Written by Steven Layne
Illustration by Neil TS Flanders
Photographs by Rebecca Thornton, Susan J Stickle and Marianne@mazthespaz
Cover Art by Ray Yu
Age Range: 7+
Hard cover: 122 pages
Publisher: Noodles Tales Publishing (December 9, 2015)
ISBN: 978-0996934916 (B&W) 978-0996934909 (Color)
What to expect: Horses, Competition, Animals and Friendship, Adversity, Triumph
Ulme of the Alentejo: A Tale of Two Horses is an inspiring tale of human and animal spirit. The first book of a planned trilogy, the story focuses on the triumphs and travails of life. One of the book’s most appealing aspects is the artful and imaginative rendering of the dialogue between the horses that populate the story. This is not a Mr. Ed version of talking horses, and author Steven Layne’s love and passion for horses—as well as formidable knowledge—is evident as he renders their speech with intelligence and sensitivity. At one point in the story, a horse kicks a groom, leading to this spirited exchange: “I don’t know who you think you are, but our grooms are good guys and work tirelessly to keep us healthy. You never, ever kick anyone. I don’t care what you think they may have done, mister!” Even more touchingly genuine are the thoughts of the horses, particularly Ulme, who is tragically taken away and forced to fight the bulls of the corrida: “Why did they have to take me away from my beautiful paddock with the sweet grass and the shady trees? Why couldn’t they just leave me alone where I was happy?”
It is the journey to rescue Ulme that drives this inspiring story, wonderfully embodied in the figure of a young, beautiful cavaleira named Anna Maria who must undertake a great journey to find Ulme. Along the way, photographs of the actual horses that inspired the story, along with compelling illustrations, help to enhance this already vivid and moving tale.
It is clear that horse lovers will adore this book, and the insight it gives into the incredible world of Dressage sport horses is truly unique among books for young readers. For its loving portrait of animals and its message about overcoming obstacles to achieve a worthy goal, this tale is truly a champion! It surely deserves to be a trilogy, and this first volume will have readers champing at the bit for subsequent installments.
Add this book to your collection: Ulme of the Alentejo: A Tale of Two Horses
About Steven Layne
My formative years were spent in the cocoon – like world of jet fighters. I traded in my flight suit for one from Saville Row and began a ten year odyssey with commercial jets and India. An extraordinary time and place that I’m trying to capture in a work called Bombay Winds. Meantime, I’m enjoying the series A Tale of Two Horses and have many more ideas to capture.
Writing Ulme’s story, I had tremendous empathy for his enigmatic character. The idea of this young Lusitano horse forced to engage in a battle of wits and agility against the massive Spanish fighting bulls, created the narrative for a six-stanza poem. I sensed a story in this real life horse that would resonate with many, if only symbolically.
When Ulme’s best friend and stable mate, Noodles went into Afib, I found my inspiration for a larger story and began to write, finding Noodles’ voice in the dialectic. He (Noodles, whose show name is Udon P) has a very compelling personality. This became more evident as Noodles narrated Ulme’s story from his early days in the Alentejo, the dramatic forays with the bulls, and finally banishment into isolation.
Balancing the magic of talking horses with the reality of their true nature had me frequently questioning the dialogue and storyline. As in all journeys, it is an imperfect process. I hope the result is entertaining and gives the reader a glimpse behind the curtain into the incredible world of sport horses.
For more information, visit: www.noodlestales.com
Dedicated Reviews allow authors and illustrators to gain prompt visibility for their work. The author of “Ulme of the Alentejo: A Tale of Two Horses,” Steven Layne, sponsored this non-biased review. Learn more about getting a book review …