Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers: The Things She's Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

The Lost Horse

"People came from far and wide to see the sculpture of the man and his horse." Then one day, the bronze horse vanishes! Detectives search high and low, combing through nearby villages, to no avail. Where could this valuable horse have gone?

Lyra, a lonely girl living in the far-away forest in a house "taller than any of the trees surrounding it," is astonished when a bronze horse appears outside her window: "A horse... My wish came true!" Together they pick flowers, take walks and play hide and seek. Despite their lovely adventures, though, "every now and then, Lyra [thinks] the horse [looks] sad," as if he is "missing something." When a great bronze man appears looking for his horse, Lyra knows what the horse was missing: "his friend." Though she understands, she is sad to lose him. Until, that is, the horse speeds back to the city's museum, bringing both her and the bronze man with him. Greeted as a hero who returned the lost horse, Lyra is welcomed into the city, where she discovers a wide world to explore; she promises to visit her sculpted friends often.

The Lost Horse is illustrator Mark Nicholas's (The Story of Tantrum O'Furrily) whimsical picture book-writing debut. Nicholas uses a muted gray palette for his illustrations, Lyra's red dress and a few scattered flowers the only pops of color. Lyra's red edges blend into the gray background, giving her the illusion of depth and movement, and the horse and man are dreamlike in their rendering, little more than shadowy, elongated sketches against a more defined backdrop. Nicholas's sweet story explores the importance of companionship and empathy and highlights the adventures possible when in possession of an imaginative spirit. --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor