See How They Grow: Foal by Mary Ling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
As part of my aim to have a look at more non-fiction, I fell a little bit in love with this book from Dorling Kindersley. I have a lot of time for Dorling Kindersley and their approach. Their books are always clear and concise and focused, but still very accessible. There’s a consistency of having a lot of white space around the images used which allows us to focus heavily on what we’re learning about – and in this case, it’s the growth of a young chestnut foal.
Heavily anthropomorphised throughout (so perhaps not the best choice if you’re looking for hard factual knowledge), this book follows the foal from newborn through to five months old. We first meet the unnamed foal when it has just been born, legs and hooves splayed behind it like a baby giraffe: “I am a foal. I have just been born. My legs are very wobbly.” This simple image-text style correlation continues throughout until the foal reaches five months: “I am give months old and nearly full grown. Soon I will be big enough to join the ponies in the paddock”. One thing I felt this could have done with was a little bit of a glossary – there’s some difficult words such as graze and paddock used which, whilst technically correct, sit a little complicatedly in sentences such as: “When we are tired, we graze together. Playing with friends is fun.”
Where this book shines though is with its use of imagery. Foals grow so swiftly, it’s fascinating to see the way the foal shifts from a bandy legged pale chestnut, all legs and thinness, into a solid young pony with a dark chestnut brown coat. The last double page spread features all the poses from the book and presents them with that distinctive Dorling Kindersley white space around them. This spread in particular could inspire a lot of work such as following the development of your own pet, or a plant or a younger sibling. There’s a lot that can be taken from it.
The last thing to note about Foal is that it features a rather gorgeous repeated motif on every page. Starting on the endpapers, it’s a lightly cartoony replication of the foals growth. There’s a series of little sketches, reflecting each part of its life, and it’s rather lovely. You can view the entire thing in the endpapers, and the relevant section as it applies to each stage of its life on the relevant pages. (That was an awful sentence, but I hope you understood what I meant!).