“Steve is a fine horse,” begins Kelly Collier's clever picture book. “But he thinks he could be finer. He wants to be EXCEPTIONAL.” When Steve finds a beautiful gold horn lying on the ground in the forest, he realizes he has found his path to the exceptional! He immediately ties the horn to the top of his head and prances off to show his friends. Not everyone is impressed, but most of his friends agree --- Steve and his horn are indeed exceptional. In fact, many of his friends are so inspired, they decide to tie items to the tops of their heads as well. So when Steve discovers his horn has suddenly gone missing, he's devastated and frantically searches everywhere to find it. He won't be exceptional without his horn! Or will he?
This is a laugh-out-loud tale of an endearingly self-absorbed horse, illustrated in lively black-and-white artwork. Throughout the story, Collier interweaves humorous commentary and some definitions (such as for devastated: “That means really, really bummed.”). The tone of the book allows children to feel like they're in on the joke while the main character isn't, adding to the amusement. Besides its fun appeal as a read-aloud, this book would be a terrific choice to launch discussions on self-esteem, particularly about the difference between what people think will make them special and what actually does make them special. It also works for lessons on proper social skills and how to treat your friends.
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