Gallop-O-Gallop - Kelly Murphy, Sandra Alonzo

Isn't it funny how our expectations flavor what we read even if the author had nothing to do with it? When I picked up Gallop-o-Gallop, I was expecting a picture book story told in rhyme.  Something akin to Paul Revere's Ride. Instead, this is a poetic celebration of all things horse, told via 21 poems written by Sandra Alonzo and illustrated by Kelly Murphy in a sweeping variety of images that linger in your mind.  

 

The title poem practically invites you to sing it at a cadence that echoes the rhythm of horse's hoofs but it is quickly followed by poems celebrating everything from grooming to the birth of a foal to competition jumping. There are poems about the mundane (horsey sneeze) and the mythological.  

 

My favorite thing about this book is how the images and poems come together to make you feel like you've suddenly spent a lifetime around horses.  The illustrations play a large part in this, showing such a variety of locations, seasons, and ambiances: the dim dark barn snugly safe from the thunderstorm outside, winter's icy-snow, Altamira worthy cave drawings, turquoise sea swirls, glowing Spring-green fields.  In a list the images sound wildly discordant, but Kelly Murphy's acrylic, oil, and gel medium illustrations connect them all.