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The White Sea Horse: 02/04/07

The White Sea Horse

I picked up and old and battered copy of The White Sea Horse at the Starbucks in Dublin. They maintain a bookshelf there which is a combination of discards from the Dublin library and wild releases by local BookCrossing members. The cover art and its length (under 100 pages) are what caught my attention. The man on the cover reminded me of John Wayne and I could just hear him in my head: "Wahll pilgrum, this here is a sea hahrse."

Obviously the book doesn't have a John Wayne character in it nor is it a Western. It's British children's story, one of those "small town along the coast is visited by magical sea creatures" type stories. In this case, the creature is a "sea horse" or like the unicorns in Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, an equine manifestation of the ocean's waves. Of course in The Last Unicorn the unicorns were turned into waves and here the wave is turned into a horse.

The sea horse apparently can bring luck to anyone who touches it. The thought of luck turns otherwise sensible people in to greedy and thoughtless ones. Rather than finding itself new blessed, this sea side town finds itself in a whole heap of trouble.

The story relies on the sort of bizarre cause and effect logic that young children use and since the two protagonists are young children (probably around the age of six or seven) it makes sense. As it is such a short book these strange leaps in logic work well and add up to a delightful read that takes about an hour from start to finish.

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