Calico the Wonder Horse: Christmas Gift Edition

by Virginia Lee Burton (Author)

Calico the Wonder Horse: Christmas Gift Edition
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Way out west in Cactus county lived a horse named Calico. She wasn't very pretty, but she was smart and could run like greased lightning. When villain Stewy Stinker threatens to hold up Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, will Calico the Wonder Horse be able to save the day? This gift edition celebrates the 75th Anniversary of this classic tale by Caldecott medalist Virginia Lee Burton, the author of Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel. With an updated cover, it's the perfect holiday present for children of all ages.

Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1941, Burton's story of Calico, "the smartest fastest horse in all of Cactus County," reappears in an edition that emphasizes its (somewhat tenuous) connection to Christmas: Bandit Stewy Stinker, an actual mustache-twirling villain, "was said to be so mean he would hold up Santa Claus on Christmas Eve if he had a chance," and the story concludes with a Christmas Eve party at the schoolhouse. Most of the serpentine tale follows Calico and Hank the cowboy's efforts to round up Stewy and his wonderfully named crew of Bad Men: Butch Bones, Snake Eye Pyezon, Buzzard Bates, and Skunk Skeeter. Set against red and green backdrops, Burton's handsome b&w images dazzle, filled with dust clouds, fierce chases, and even fiercer face-offs. Though the story occasionally shows its age ("For weeks the womenfolks had been baking cakes and pies and doughnuts"), the no-nonsense, wryly funny narration ("It rained so hard and so fast that if you opened your mouth you'd be in danger of drowning") is just as delightful 75 years on. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-3--First published in 1941, this Western tall tale has been repackaged and repurposed in red and green as a "Christmas classic." The text and striking black-and-white woodcut illustrations are virtually unchanged from the original, though the title has been slightly modified with the omission of "The Saga of the Stewy Stinker" as the subtitle. VERDICT Though the new format is larger and brighter, this selection is still best read individually or one-on-one because of the intricacy of the panels and the lively language meant for slightly older picture book readers. Also a good gift for historical collections and nostalgic adults.--Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Burton's rootin'-tootin' comic-book-style Western was and still is completely original, with its varied-colored pages and experimental graphic design. i! Yi! Whoopee!to the publishers for reissuing this progressive and energetic classic—with the villain's name properly and alliteratively restored to boot." - Horn Book

"Complete with lightening bolt and clouds of churned-up dust, for its tale of good and evil in the wild West." - Publishers Weekly

Virginia Lee Burton

Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) was the talented author and illustrator of some of the most enduring books ever written for children. The winner of the 1942 Caldecott Medal for THE LITTLE HOUSE, Burton's books include heroes and happy endings, lively illustrations, and a dash of nostalgia. She lived with her two sons, Aristides and Michael, and her husband George Demetrios, the sculptor, in a section of Gloucester, Massachusetts, called Folly Cove. Here she taught a class in design and from it emerged the Folly Cove designers, a group of internationally known professional artisans. She is the author of many classic children's picture books, including MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL and KATY AND THE BIG SNOW.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2016

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