Press:Boyds Mills Pr Boyds Mills Press (October 15, 2005)
Author Name:Hansen, Rosanna/ Soderstrom, Neil (ILT)
You've probably seen guide dogs navigate the streets with their blind owners, but what would you think if you saw a horse? Yes, a horse! People are often surprised when they first see Panda guiding her owner, Ann Edie.
Panda is a miniature horse - she's only as tall as Ann's thigh - and she knows how to help Ann go anywhere she wants to go.
Panda sees for Ann, guiding her across busy streets, through crowded buildings, and even into cars or onto trains.
Panda is one of the first miniature horses to be trained as a guide animal.
Her training has been a learning experience for both Ann and Panda.
The two use special signals to tell each other when to stop, when to go, or where there might be danger.
Together they can tackle almost any situation with confidence.
Rosanna Hansen's clear, lively text and Neil Soderstrom's vivid photographs help readers understand the unique relationship between a guide animal and its owner.
As Ann says, "Panda and I are partners and friends - and that is a wonderful feeling."
Most children have seen Seeing Eye dogs, but almost none have come in contact with a guide horse.
Only a few such horses have been trained and are working.
That's part of what makes this photo-essay so fascinating; it's a new topic for children's nonfiction.
It's also very well done, showcasing how Panda helps her owner and how the miniature horse was originally trained.
The oversize book features many glossy, well-structured photographs that bring children right into the life of a blind woman, Ann Edie, and it explains the many ways that Panda helps Ann--crossing streets, going shopping, riding on trains.
The book moves back in time, chronicling Panda's training.
Ann and her friend Alex, a horse trainer, heard about the first minihorse trained as a guide; since Ann's longtime guide dog had recently died, the women decided to see if they could train a guide horse, whose life span would be years longer than a dog's.
The heartwarming, informative book shows the happy results.
Several Web sites and a short bibliography are appended.
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Guide dogs for the blind are a familiar concept to many young people; a guide horse, on the other hand, is an original as well as an irresistible idea.
As Hansen's book makes clear, her subject, Panda (a twenty-nine-inch-tall miniature horse) is definitely a pioneer in the field; his owner, Ann, a longtime lover and owner of horses, decided (after the death of her beloved guide dog) to work with her trainer and develop a horse guide in a "detailed research project." Hansen describes Panda's life and work with Ann, then explains Panda's training (which draws on the practice of clicker training to shape her behavior), pausing to give a brief history of miniature horses as guides (the first was trained in 1999).
Panda's duties and training will be largely familiar to those up on their guiding, but it's intriguing to see a horse going through those particular paces; the book also talks a little bit about the differences between horses and dogs, noting that horses live almost three times as long and that their field of vision is much larger.
The details are particularly likely to win readers' hearts, as Panda hops tidily into the back seat of a car, diligently clip-clops her way down a flight of stairs, or politely rings the bell that tells Ann she needs a trip outside for a bathroom break.
The layout is clear and solid, if a little stodgy, and occasional informative sidebars break up the stiffness; the main draw, of course, is the photography, and viewers will relish the myriad views of the flashy, photogenic little pinto, looking like a fuzzy black-and-white bear in her long winter fur or a sleek professional in her summer coat.
The appealing subject makes this particularly suitable for younger primary-graders looking to tackle lengthier literary projects or middle-graders with more interest in animals than dense blocks of text.
A brief list of relevant websites and books for young people is included, along with an index.
--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
About the Author
Rosanna Hansen is the author of more than fifteen children's books.
Before she turned to writing full time, she worked in children's books as a publisher and editor in chief at such companies as Weekly Reader, Reader's Digest Children's Books, and Groilier.
She lives in Tockahoe, New York.
Children's Books,Growing Up & Facts of Life,Health,Physical Disabilities,Biographies,Science & Technology,Friendship, Social Skills & School Life,Special Needs
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