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Book Review

Derby Day: A Pop-Up Celebration of the Kentucky Derby
Written and Illustrated by Pamela Pease
from Paintbox Press, May 2005, hardcover, 11.5" x 11.5"

Although the title may lead you to think this book is just for children, it is actually an enjoyable experience for any fan of the Kentucky Derby. Pamela Pease has put her colorful illustrations together with informative stories to create eight vignettes going from the history of racing to the Kentucky Derby. Each two-page vignette is centered with a pop-up illustration and has sections of text meant to be read to children plus further information for older readers. It is a great way to introduce kids to the world of racing and would also make an interesting conversation piece or decoration at a Kentucky Derby party.

The first section is about thoroughbreds and the history of racing in America leading up the creation of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The next section takes us to the breeding farm and the birth of the new foals. Next is the breaking and training of young horses, where rather than a pop-up you have stable doors to open that show the various people who take care of the horses such as grooms, trainers, and vets. The fourth section is about jockeys, owners, and racing silks where you can pull a tab to make the race horse run. Part five is all about the Kentucky Derby traditions including the Derby Festival, the Pegasus Parade, and other events held in Louisville during the Festival with a pop-up of the parade and balloon race. Next is a pop-up of the horses in the paddock on Derby Day with information about what goes on that day, ending with "Riders up!" (shown to the right.) Section seven is the race itself with a huge pop-up of the infield, toteboard, and the horses in the stretch with information about the running of the race itself. Also included is a flip book showing an animation of a horse's running stride. The final scene is the Derby trophy surrounded by roses and photos of several past Kentucky Derby winners from Aristides to Smarty Jones.

I found the book to be an enjoyable experience with accurate information for novice fans as well as children. The illustrations are bright and colorful, while the pop-ups are skillfully constructed and animated. If you have children, you definitely want to get this to help spark their interest in horse racing. It would also make a great addition to any Kentucky Derby collection or a unique item to show off at your Kentucky Derby party.

Derby Day has a list price of $36.00 and is available from both and the publisher, Paintbox Press.

Rating:     5/5

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