Nellie Sue is a cowgirl (at least in her own mind), and everyone knows that a cowgirl needs a horse. As her birthday unfolds, she is hopeful that her parents will take the hint. She is at first disappointed when her horse turns out to be a bicycle, but she quickly rallies. After all, in these modern times of suburban living, every cowgirl also needs an imagination.
I liked that this story was centered around imagination. Even before the need for an imaginary horse, Nellie Sue has already been shown to have a fertile fantasy life. She reimagines all of her chores as ranch tasks, and all of her food as cowboy grub. This seemed like the sort of real fantasy play that I see children engage in all the time. One of the great wonders of childhood is the ability to create a play scenario and then broadcast it onto every aspect of your life for days at a time. So many celebrations of imagination tend to skew towards psychedelic creations of ever-increasing fantasy, and that sort of free-wheeling thinking does exist. But so often we ignore the quieter, but perhaps more useful, imagination that is able to sustain a specific scenario.
The illustrations are key to understanding the humor of the text and to realize that Nellie Sue is already actively engaged in fantasy play. For instance, when Nellie Sue says she is going to muck the barn, the reader is presented with a picture of her cleaning out the hamster cage. The book is a little too pink for my own personal tastes, but I recognize that right now it’s commonly accepted that pink sells books, so I can understand the pink, even if I don’t necessarily appreciate it.
All in all, this is a cute book that should be widely appreciated.