Galing, Ed. Tony. Erin E. Stead, Illus. Roaring Brook, 02/2017. pp. $16.99. 978-1-62672-308-5. OUTSTANDING. GRADES K-3.
Tony, a strong but gentle horse, and his driver deliver milk, eggs, and butter in the early morning hours. The late Ed Galing’s poem, combined with the incomparable artwork of Erin Stead, capture a beautiful moment, as a memory from another age. “Tony was all white/ large, sturdy,/ with wide gentle eyes/and a ton of love.” The poem unfolds quietly, offering only a few words or lines set far to one side of each two-page spread, a choice that encourages the reader to pause and allows the pictures to fill the space. Tony and his pre-dawn world are tenderly rendered in pencil with foggy green and gold undertones, achieved through Gomuban monoprinting. Some spreads are filled with a background of mottled green ink while others are mostly cream with just a smudge of gold under the pencil drawing. This contrast in light, combined with the distance between the focal point of each drawing and the text, draws readers into the moment and evokes a sense of remembering. Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee, 2010), conveys Tony’s gentle demeanor through a portrait-like perspective and subtle yet precise details. Even the vellum title page that, when turned, like fog, lifts away the bibliographic information to reveal the single first word of the poem—“Tony”—sets the stage and tells the reader that this story will be special.
Sarah Zaharako, Independent