“It was the scariest half-hour of your life.
You were somewhere with Mom or Dad, and they let go of your hand for just a minute. Just a minute, and suddenly you were in a sea of legs with no idea what happened.
You were totally, completely lost.
You might’ve cried a little but honestly, you knew what to do: you looked for a security guard or policeman and asked for help, knowing you’d be safe. And once you’ve read “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop” by Helen L. Wilbur, illustrated by John Manders, you’d look for the biggest policeman you could find.
You’ve got to be calm and cool to be a New York City cop. It takes nerves of steel and months of training because anything can happen on a busy city street.
Nobody knows that more than 10-year-old, 1,256-pound Finnegan the horse. He and his human partner, Tyrone Jefferson Fox (or T.J., for short) work the Times Square beat in New York , a famous place where visitors and tourists like to go. It’s always crowded there.
Every morning, Finnegan and Fox start their day by checking the neighborhood. They say “hello” to Hussan with his fruit-and-vegetable cart. Officer Serafina Ruiz always gives T.J. a big smile. Food-Cart Tony gives T.J. his morning coffee and pats Finnegan on the nose because, really, who doesn’t like a horse?
For sure, everybody in Times Square did on that one day when lots of people stopped to say hello to officers Finnegan and Fox. That included a group of kids on a school visit from Cheyenne, Wy. One of them, a little girl named Maggie who loved horses, really fell in love with Finnegan. Finnegan liked her, too.
But much as he would have liked to be hugged all day, Finnegan had to get back to work with his partner. There were emergencies to watch out for, tourists to help, people to direct, traffic to oversee and tickets to write. It was another busy day in Times Square with lots to do, including — uh oh! — looking for a little girl who was lost and probably very frightened.
A missing little girl from Cheyenne
Most kids might think that horses and big cities don’t go together. They probably think that horses belong in grassy corrals, not crowded streets. Which is why most kids will be delighted with “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop.”
Wilbur’s story will surely make future law officers want to join the mounted patrol, while young horse lovers will want a horse exactly like Finnegan. Heck, after reading this story, I wanted a horse like Finnegan — partly because Wilbur gave him a winning personality, and partly because Manders made Finnegan almost human in his illustrations.
If your 3- to 6-year-old is an animal lover, dreams of becoming a police officer, or (hearts) NY, then this adorable book is one they’ll ask you to read again and again.
For them, for sure, “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop” will be quite arresting.
View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of children’s books weekly.