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November 18, 2014


By Mary M.

In honor of National Picture Book Month, Teen Board member Mary M. remembers why Jan Brett’s FRITZ AND THE BEATIFUL HORSES was so special to her as a child and remains so to this day.






Whether I was age 7, 8, 9 or 15, I love(d) this book. I’m 15 now. Do the math; I still love it. Jan Brett’s FRITZ AND THE BEAUTIFUL HORSES was a staple of my early relationship with the written word. Fritz is a shaggy, small dun pony. He is brightly eager and friendly, but only the most beautiful horses are allowed to live in the city. Shaggy, small dun ponies don’t qualify. Every day, he watches the sleek, prancing jumpers and the glossy chargers… but when misfortune occurs, the beautiful horses of the city won’t help. Sure-footed, gentle Fritz is the hero, and the whole town loves him for it.


            The words are sparkling and few; the gorgeous illustrations tell the heart of the story. When I read this book, I had no concept of artists’ work; I simply ran my wondering fingers over the dark dapples of a gray and the intricate tapestries woven in the saddle pads. I would read it over and over, noting the slant of a haughty mare’s eye or the simple contentment of a mouthful of hay. This book is sheer magic.


It evoked within me a deep fondness and a sympathetic support for Fritz. 


FRITZ AND THE BEAUTIFUL HORSES is not only filled with rose-rambling hillsides and elegant horses; it evoked within me a deep fondness and a sympathetic support for Fritz. The story was made even more satisfying because it ended not with easy platitudes, but with the triumphant welcome that Fritz deserved. Something within me, something that wanted to be sated with more than lullabies, needed to hear this. Another part of the enchantment was that Jan Brett did not water down her words to simplistic, easy language. Words like “magnificent,” “elegant,” “chargers” and “decreed” imbued me with wonder.


 I remember this not as a picture book, but as a story. At a cottage by a lake, always in the summer, I read the words and drank in the stunning art and learned to adore Fritz, all at once. Somewhere in the landscape of my memories, you will find the grassy gorge and a shaggy pony, carrying children out of love. Even today, the pages hold a deep and lasting charm, one I don’t think will ever fade.


Mary M. is a Teen Board member.