Horatio Humble Beats the Big D

Posted February 16, 2012 by in Boy


Book Cover

Plot & Storyline

Age Appropriate


Layout & Design

Wow Factor

Total Score

5/ 5

Genre: , , , , ,
Author: Margot Finke
Illustrator: Ellen Gurak
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
Release Date: November 2, 2010
Target Age: K-5, Middle Grade
Author Website: http://margotfinke.com/

What I Loved:

Great tool in learning to deal with dyslexia.



Horatio Humble Beats the Big D is age-appropriate, the characters are realistic, and the setting is only too real.

by RitaLorraine
Full Article

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

About the Author


I am a former special education teacher, and currently a full-time children's writer and book blogger. I am Lee and Low Publishers 2012 New Voices Award Winner. I am the author of Getting a Job in the Food Industry (Rosen Publishing, TBA), I penned African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes, and I teach Conversational English online.


    Janet Halfmann

    Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing!


    jack foster

    Great review! Congrats Margot and thanks Rita :o)


    Margot Finke

    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

    Nancy Stewart

    Lovely review. It was so well written and expressive! I enjoyed reading it, and thank you.


    Margot Finke

    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

    Rhonda Fischer

    Great Job Margot! I am so happy for you. Love the illustrator and love the story line. You are a world win Margot, Keeping those stories coming!

    Rhonda Fischer- Whim Publishing

    Margot Finke

    Rhonda, lovely to see you here. Thanks a whole bunch. Horatio and I are still dancing!!

    BOOKS for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

    kathy stemke

    I love Margot’s writing and this fantastic book! The review was smashing as well. As a retired teacher myself, I can appreciate its relevance for every classroom. Kids that are merely struggling with reading will also relate to this kid.


    Margot Finke

    Kathy you are wonderful: my most loyal fan. Thanks, mate. Hugs from Horatio as well.

    And it is no secret that Kathy’s a pretty good writer herself.

    BOOKS for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

    Janet Ann Collins

    Books like this are certainly needed. Thanks for letting people know about it.



      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

    Margot Finke

    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

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