Empathy: Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse!


Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, illustrated by Corinna Luyken

I am delighted to join the blog tour for Marcy Campbell and Corinna Luyken’s new release, Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse (Dial Books for Young Readers; ages 3-5).  A gorgeous and poignant lesson in empathy and compassion, I expect it to become a favorite of parents, librarians, and educators everywhere.

Adrian Simcox is an odd boy — a scattered daydreamer who is often alone.  Most of his interactions with others center on talking in great detail about his horse.  Chloe is a clever girl who sees no rational explanation for how Adrian Simcox could own a horse.  Confidant in her conclusion, she indignantly asserts that he most definitely does NOT have a horse to anyone who will listen.  An unexpected visit to Adrian’s home teaches Chloe that what he does not have in material goods, he makes up for in imagination.  With a greater understanding of his circumstances, Chloe is able to appreciate the transformative power of Adrian’s imagination and embrace his fantasy with kindness and compassion.

This is a superb book.  Beautifully written, it perfectly captures the rigid, black-and-white thinking of children while rich illustrations convey nuanced emotion and highlight the socioeconomic difference between these two characters.  It’s a book to broaden the world view of children, who are often limited to the narrow scope of their individual experiences.  And a lesson in the value of appreciating the limits of our own knowledge and approaching others with kindness and compassion.  Overall, I think it’s a book with the power to make the world a better place by fostering an empathic disposition toward others.


I told my mom about Adrian’s horse and how he definitely does not have one. “Hmmm,” she said. “And how would you know, Ms. Smarty-Pants?” “Because I know! Adrian Simcox does NOT have a horse!” Adrian Simcox gets the free lunch at school. His shoes have holes. Kelsey told me her cousin has a horse, and it’s super expensive. He can’t take care of a horse.


But I was tired of being patient with Adrian Simcox and tired of trying to understand why he kept telling everybody he had a horse when HE DID NOT! The next day by the swings he was telling a bunch of little kids about his “beautiful horse with its white coat and golden mane,” saying she had “the biggest, brownest eyes of any horse, anywhere.”


It was the tiniest house I ever saw. It was like half or our house. Mom started talking to Adrian’s grandpa, and Adrian said, “I like your dog.” Chompers pulled the leash from my hand and went over and licked Adrian Simcox, right on the face! I could see the backyard. It was no place for a horse, that’s for sure.


I also thought, he had the most beautiful horse of anyone, anywhere.