The Winner’s Walk
- written by Nancy Ruth Patterson
- illustrated by Thomas F. Yezerski
- Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006
- 114 pp., black and white illustrations
- ages 7-10
- ISBN-10: 0-374-38445-2
- ISBN-13: 978-0-37438445-6
Case’s mother is a popular stage actress, his father is a champion show-jumper, and his sister a state-level swimmer. Case doesn’t know what he is, because he fails at whatever he tries. Then a mysterious golden retriever appears on the farm. He can answer the phone and put dishes in the dishwasher. Case names the dog Noah and shows him how to jump the obstacles his father uses for training the family horses. Before long, Case and Noah are entering an agility contest and getting their picture in the paper. Then, Noah’s original owner calls. Nancy Ruth Patterson builds a warm, detailed story of a boy and his dog meeting the obstacles on the course to victory.
This book was actually my second partnership with Nancy Ruth Patterson. I had illustrated the jacket for her novel A Simple Gift. Not that we were actual partners — I rarely meet the authors whose books I illustrate. I was really just a partner with her manuscript. Nancy likes to write a lot of details into her text and her many characters are deeply fleshed-out as well. So, I had to stay on my toes and make sure I didn’t miss anything. It was also important to stay true to the feelings of the scenes the way Nancy intended. The pictures couldn’t be too serious or too silly. I wonder if I read the book more times than Nancy herself! Just kidding. There were so many notes in the margins of the manuscript, it’s as if each and every word was hand-picked.