Not only Shoehorn’s real job felt rather dull but the snob musical instruments, snug in their luxurious velvety cases, have been teasing and bullying Shoehorn for being a fake: “No keys and no holes for the sound to come out”, “You ain’t got no slide!”, “You can’t even toot”… Shoehorn has just hung in there, without loosing his dignity, till his day to shine has come – the day when “these overblown horns had to follow his beat”. Having replaced the broken baton which previously helped the Maestro lead the orchestra Shoehorn now had an exciting new role: “conducting the tunes that you feel in your soul”.
This wonderful story has been written by Bill Borders, a former advertising pro whose career has seen him move through various roles, including that of a creative director and a co-founder of his own advertising agency. The Communication Arts magazine has credited Bill with inclusion as “One of the Top 50 Creative Directors in America.” More recently, Bill Borders has been channeling his creative efforts to writing and “A Horn is Born” is his debut children’s book.
In a delightfully unpretentious way Bill tells of his journey with this book and its many challenges. With children’s books publishing industry seeing women (including women of color) as “deservedly and finally, in demand”, Bill notes:
“Here I am, an old white guy. From hotshot creative director to know-nothing novice. It was humbling. Still is.”
Drawing parallels with the advertising world he points to the similarities between a great ad and a great picture book:
“Both hinge on a fresh idea. Both rely on the interplay of words and visuals to complete the message. Both tug at the heart more than the head. And both seem much easier to do than they actually are.”
Let’s see whether “A Horn is Born” has the above qualities of a great picture book. A sentient shoehorn as the central character? It’s the freshest picture book idea of all I’ve seen lately – thanks to Bill Borders’ thinking outside-the-square and to his routinely used shoehorn that inspired him.
An effective interplay of words and visuals? Yes, absolutely! – thanks to Melizza Chernov’s talent. Similar to Bill Borders, this is her debut picture book. I love her way of animating characters through facial expression and gesture be it people or instruments, love the unusual compositions of the world seen from the shoehorn’s perspective. Some sentences are illustrated across the swirling musical notation staves with words grouped into phrases like the notes that make up musical bars. The printed text seems to dance to the beat of the verse’s rhythm and I hear the verse without the need to read it aloud – a synesthetic effect of sorts. Clever clever Melizza!
Does this story tug at the heart and emotions? Yes and on more than one level. We empathize with the bored and bullied Shoehorn, admire his strength of character and faith, we feel redeemed when the bullies are shown their place and grateful (if not a bit jealous) of the lucky circumstances that have changed this Shoehorn’s life forever.
A great debut from both creators and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
For other great books on dealing with difficult feelings and emotions click here.
 From the following article by Kathleen Temean in her “Writing and Illustrating” blog: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2020/10/29/book-giveaway-a-horn-is-born-by-bill-borders/