Dan Boehl is a founding editor of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry publisher, which put out his book Kings of the F**king Sea, and just published Emily Pettit’s Goat in the Snow and Dan Magers’ Partyknife. His chapbook Les Miseres et les Mal-Heurs de la Guerre is available from Greying Ghost. He writes art reviews for …Might Be Good and Art Lies and was awarded a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Fellowship for his work. He writes a website for the University of Texas at Austin.
on April 17, 2012 :
A Delicious Read—
As a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults student at Vermont College of Fine Arts, it feels like I am almost constantly consuming children’s literature. Dan Boehl’s Naomi and The Horse-Flavored T-Shirt was, indeed, a delicious read. Although written for the tween-age, this is a story for all. With deft political scrutiny, Boehl uses humor and a “looking glass” perspective to reveal both the evil—and beauty—of our own world.
On Naomi’s fourteenth birthday, she is given a “horse-flavored” t-shirt by her mother. It was her missing father’s. And, although, Naomi has been taught that horses do not exist, she has a dream that leads her to believe otherwise. This dream begins her journey. She meets Sammy, a plucky farmer boy who knows more about vegetables than Naomi. (Naomi, along with everyone else has been eating forms of “paste” their entire lives, what this “paste” is made of is something you will have to discover for yourself.) Naomi and Sammy set out to find and free the horses, which leads them into the belly of evil itself—the paste factory. I won’t give too much away, but it is here—and later in Gypsy Grove—that Naomi gets to experience for the first time the beauties of our world: vegetables and fruits and animals that we take for granted. Kids and adults alike will appreciate seeing the gifts of nature as something novel. The fact that Boehl juxtaposes the beauty of the natural world with the ugliness of human greed is not a new concept, but the way he does it is memorable. His writing is at it’s finest when he describes things like elephants as “great lumps of stone” with tails that “looked like paintbrushes.” It is clear here that Dan Boehl, along with being a fine storyteller, is also a poet.
It is almost as if Naomi herself is lucky to be in this tale. After a life of consuming paste, she’s blessed with a mission and a thousand new sensory experiences. Reading this, maybe you will feel like Naomi does after she eats a strawberry for the very first time: “compared to that one taste of strawberry, her life had been absolutely boring.”
If you want to feast on a fresh new read, consume this book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)