The title of Giddy-up! Let's Ride is enough to convey the enthusiasm and energy of this rollicking book for young children. Flora McDonnell prefaces her tale by explaining that her own love of riding horses originates from her grandmother, who bounced her on her knee while reciting the nursery rhyme, "This is the way the lady rides." All the while, young Flora imagined herself atop ponies and horses, as well as more exotic beasts, such as donkeys, elephants and camels.
All of these animals and more appear in Giddy-Up!, ridden by an assortment of children that includes a young cowgirl, a jockey, a princess and even a goatherd. Toddlers will appreciate the repetitive rhyme and sound effects on each spread, which manage to be both lively and soothing:This is the way the jockey rides. faster-and-faster, faster-and-faster,This is the way the rajah rides. rumpetta-trump, rumpetta trump,This is the way the princess rides. jingle-ringle,jingle-ringle.McDonnell's acrylic and gouache illustrations feature a simple background of bold color, allowing each animal and rider to be the grand center of attention, making them loom, lumber and race across the page. For the most part, she uses bold brush strokes, adding rich, intricate details when appropriate, like the flowers, jewels and bells that adorn the elephant's headband. Color also adds to the excitement and atmosphere. The sizzling yellow background seen as a goatherd rides a donkey down a mountain conveys the heat and brilliance of summer day in a torrid, arid climate.
The animals and color, however, aren't the only stars of this tale. McDonnell's riders are lively youngsters who bang a drum, clown around in a circus and twirl a lasso in the air. The final spread features all the children together, a few atop a rocking horse, others riding stick horses. "Giddy-up! Giddy-up! Let's ride!" they all exclaim. McDonnell succeeds in bringing a classic nursery tale to life in simple yet lively style.