Horatio Humble Beats the Big D


I think I fell in love with this book the moment I spied the little boy on the cover with the “deer-in-the-headlights” expression on his face.

Horatio Humble Beats the Big D, by Margot Finke, is a book about a little boy with a BIG challenge. Horatio is a whiz in school…in Math and History, that is. But Reading? Not a chance! For Horatio, words come tumbling out like an “alphabet salad,” and any attempt at reading leaves his classmates sniggling and Horatio in an embarrassed funk. In fact, he makes such a mess of reading, he’s sure he’ll be grounded for life.

But a parent-teacher meeting is eventually scheduled, and…that’s when he hears it; a new word, funny-sounding and a little scary! The word is “dyslexia,” and apparently, Horatio has it!

Now that Horatio’s problem has a name, things should be easy-cheesy-Louise-ee, right? Wrong! Because Horatio discovers that addressing the problem means going to the special class…and there’s no way he’s going there.

Horatio Humble Beats the Big D has it all: It’s relevant, it’s age-appropriate, the characters are realistic, and the setting is only too real. As a former Special Education teacher of over 15 years, I’ve observed and worked with more “Horatio’s” than I can count: Anxious to excel, afraid to be put on the spot (when reading), and furious at being assigned to the special education room.

Finke’s knowledge of her subject matter and skill in writing shines in this book, and I believe Special Education teachers and Reading Teachers everywhere would do well to have a copy or two at their disposal. Illustrator Ellen Gurak hits the mark with Horatio’s expressive face, and I love – and pity – his bewildered eyes as he gazes in fear of the humongous stack of sinister books that crowd around him, waiting to be read. But I also love the expression of love and relief on Horatio’s mother’s face when she finally learns that her son’s problem has a name.

Finke includes tips on how to help your dyslexic child thrive at the end of the book. She also includes common symptoms to watch for if you believe your child may be dyslexic, and “definitive” articles you can read to become more knowledgeable on the subject. But that’s not even the best part of this wonderful little book: Finke also provides a link that readers can click to hear Finke herself reading excerpts from the book! How cool is that?

Here it is, just for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7WaY4qTpuQ

For a wonderful read about a confused but courageous little boy with a big, BIG problem, pick up a copy of Horatio Humble Beats the Big D.

Best wishes and happy alphabet salad…I mean, reading!

Rita Lorraine


  1. Janet, thank you so much for taking the time to read Rita’s review. I am the author, so as you might guess, I am thrilled.

    Rita, you did me proud, mate. Your review made Horatio jump off the page and offer help to all the kids out there who need encouragement and support. Thank you

    BOOKS for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

    • Hi Margot,
      You’re very welcome, thanks for sharing it with me. This book would have been the perfect classroom companion if I’d had access to it when I was a Special Education teacher. Back then (I won’t say how many years ago, for fear of “dating” myself, haha), my students yearned for books about children like them. I can just imagine the lively discussions we would have had, and the hopeful expressions when the children realized that if Horatio could do it, they could, too. Keep up the good work, Margot; these children need you and the books you write.

      All best,
      Rita Lorraine

  2. Nancy, Nicole, Janet, Jack: Lovely of all of you to come and say such nice things about Horatio. I told Rita he was getting a swelled head. Me too, if I don’t look out!!

    By the way Rita, is there a way to be notified when new comments arrive? I looked, and could find no place to click. I like to make prompt replies when people are kind enough to spend time commenting.

    Rita your wonderful review made my day. And the rest of Rita’s Blog is truly wonderful as well. Do take time to visit around it. There are lovely surprises everywhere.

    BOOKS for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

    • Congrats again, Margot, I’m so happy for you. It’s a great book and deserves what recognition it gets. As for comment notification, I’m so sorry, but the only option is the web manager (me) to be notified. However, if I find any other method, I’ll be glad to let you know.

      Sleep well,
      Rita Lorraine

    • Hey there, Janet,
      Thanks for writing. Yes, they’re sorely needed. Even with all we know about disabilities and exceptionalities, we still don’t have a lot of these types of books to choose from. I’m glad Margot had the foresight to write it. Have a great night,
      Rita Lorraine

  3. Hey there Janet, wonderful to see you here. Thanks so much for your comment. I just hope Horatio can help some dyslexic kids feel better about themselves, and get help with their reading. Special Ed is a terrific resource for these smart kids.

    BOOKS for Kids – Manuscript Critiques