Sandra Tayler Talks About The Strength of Wild Horses

Sandra Tayler is the author of Hold on to  Your Horses, a gorgeous picture book about an impulsive child named Amy. (You can read the book as a free .pdf.) From my review of that first book:

One of the most poignant moments in the book is when Amy breaks down and asks, “Why am I always the problem?” For these children (and their parents and caretakers), Tayler’s book provides a way to understand and start to control their impulsive behavior.

I was delighted to find out Sandra was kickstarting The Strength of Wild Horses, a second book about Amy. Like the first book, this one will be illustrated by the marvelous Angela Call. I’m happy to have Sandra here to talk about her hopes and goals for this new book.

You can learn more and support her Kickstarter at


1. You said you wrote Hold on to Your Horses, your first book about Amy, “because [your] daughter needed a story that helped her visualize and control her impulsive ideas.” What prompted you to write The Strength of Wild Horses?

I started seeing the need for a second book almost as soon as the first book was done. My daughter was finally able to visualize her impulsive creativity as something she could control and steer, but then she looked at me one day and told me that sometimes she got tired of steering. “What are wild idea horses good for?” she cried. I had a dozen answers for her, but they were grown up answers. A six year old is not going to be comforted by the fact that some day, when she is all grown up, her headstrong creativity will make her a fantastic project leader in the workplace. I had to find an answer that showed her how wild ideas can make a child’s life better. Strength of Wild Horses is my answer.

2. Has your daughter read the new book? What did she think?

She has and she likes it. I took much longer than I would have liked to find the answer to her question and there were also business and funding issues that delayed the project for six years. My daughter is twelve now and relates to the story in a very different way than she did when she was in Kindergarten, but she loves the way that I lifted some actual events from her life and folded them into Amy’s story. Some of the chaos that Amy creates is based on real life events.

3. I know you as a very loving and dedicated parent, and you’ve blogged about some of the challenges and rewards of being a parent. Can you talk a bit about stories as a way to help children learn and grow?

We all need stories, both adults and children. Stories help us explain–to ourselves–who we are and how to go forward. The right story can completely change how a person views themselves, which is what I accomplished with Hold on to Your Horses. Once my daughter had that story she was able to see that she could have an unfortunate impulse without being a bad person. Even more valuable was her increased ability to choose how to express her ideas so that they didn’t cause problems. Strength of Wild Horses takes that even further, showing that the existence of headstrong ideas can make the world a better place. These are powerful stories to hand to a child who struggles with high energy creativity that gets them in trouble. Over and over again through my parenting I have helped my kids find the stories they needed. I sometimes review books that helped us over on the Hold on to Your Horses facebook page. Stories can change the world by changing the people in it.

4. Angela Call’s artwork is bright, colorful, and gorgeous. What’s the story of how you brought her into the Horses projects?

I wrote Hold on to Your Horses because my daughter needed a story. Then because she was only six, I knew that the story needed pictures. I’m married to a cartoonist, so it seems like that would have an easy solution, except my husband and I both agreed that his art style wasn’t right. Instead we put out the word on the internet that I was looking for an artist. I couldn’t promise that the project would ever make any money, but I did promise that the artist would make half of any profit. I was fortunate that Angela saw the open call and decided to submit. Angela and I have never met in person. We do most of our communication via email.

5. This isn’t your first time working with Kickstarter. Assuming you meet your fundraising goal (and we hope you do!!!), what happens next?

If this project funds it will pay for a print run of 2000 books and cover the costs of Kickstarter, packaging, and postage. I’ve already paid Angela and advance out of pocket. In order for me to get paid, I’ll have to sell enough of those books. I’d like to get paid eventually, but more important is getting to make the book and making it available to people who need the story. If the project does really well, I have other stories to tell and Angela can draw really beautiful pictures…

6. Okay, time for a Very Serious question: why horses as opposed to, say, goblins?

Goblins are amazing and wonderful. Using them for the book was quite tempting, but my daughter loved horses at the time I wrote the story for her. I had to pick the animal which always focused her attention. Being able to tap into the common usage of the phrase “Hold on to Your Horses” was an added bonus.

7. Anything else you’d like to add or talk about?

I’d just like to express sympathy and support to all the parents out there who are struggling to understand their children. I think that is pretty much every parent at some point in their parenting life. Raising kids is hard, particularly when you can see what is coming and you imagine how difficult it could be. Hang in there. Expose your kids to all sorts of stories and pay attention to which stories your child loves. That can be a key of connection and understanding between you if you let it be.