Most people have a vague idea of what the Kentucky Derby is all about, but very few know the rich history behind it. But former librarian and Helen L. Wilbur changes all of that with her dashing new picture book, D is For Derby.
In this brilliantly-illustrated alphabet book, Ms. Wilbur uses both poetry and prose to tell the story of a sporting event that is as American as apple pie: The regal horses from yesteryear (like Exterminator, the rough and awkward horse that ended up becoming one of the most powerful race-horses of all time); lovely female spectators bedecked in extravagant brim hats; and what it’s like in the horseshoe-shaped winner’s circle when the race has been won.
In true A-B-C format, the book teaches readers about when thoroughbred foals are born, and when they are sold; how a groom’s soothing hands and calming voice can inspire a champion to do its best; how kings and queens come to the derby to be a part of the hoof-pounding excitement; and even how Kentucky bluegrass got its name.
Part picture book, part book-of-knowledge, part old-fashioned ABC book, this quaint picture book should prove to be a great read for both child and adult. It will excite current and forthcoming equestrians, charm fact-loving historians, and serve as a great teaching tool for any classroom discussion about animals, sporting events, favorite pastimes and American traditions.
Although it is an alphabet book, the lengthy and challenging passages make it a great choice for independent or supplemental reading for children in grades 3 – 6 (ages 8 to 11).
Younger children in grades K-2 may also benefit from being exposed to this book because they will learn about animal care, equestrian sports and ABC’s, all at the same time. As long as a parent or teacher is handy to assist these younger ones with the lengthy passages, they should have no problem digesting the exciting contents of this book.
Young and old alike will enjoy artist Jaime Corum’s rich illustrations that are so realistic, readers will feel like they’ve been dropped right down in the middle of the Derby. They will imagine themselves astride a powerful race-horse, feeling the flexing muscles, hearing the thundering hooves, and smelling the horse’s sweat as the Kentucky Bluegrass rolls into the distance as far as the eye can see.
And because these illustrations are so rich, this book is hereby awarded the coveted Picture Book Depot Outstanding Illustrations award.
For a creative way to enjoy history, sports and Americana all wrapped up into one, be sure to pick up a copy of D is For Derby.
Best wishes and happy Kentucky Derby,