Book review (warning: spoilers ahead).
Everything but the Horse is a picture book by Holly Hobbie. FarmWife read it in the library—a big mistake, because in libraries one is supposed to be quiet.
FarmWife got to the surprise ending and her voice burst out in violent protest. "Oh, that's sick!" she said. "How cruel!" FarmWife was deeply offended by the ending, and hopes you never read it to your own children. It might break their hearts.
The book gets wonderful reviews on Amazon, strangely enough. Others apparently like the premise of a young horse-lover, well equipped with barn, paddock, and nearby trails, who is finally given not a horse but a bicycle. Who, after agonizing months spent wishing, is given hope with these words: "Your birthday present is in the barn."
What kind of sick parent does that? I can understand how some families might feel unprepared to care for a horse, but don't hide the bike in the barn. Don't lead your daughters on. Don't be cruel.
The happy little protagonist, riding her bike into the sunset (she named it "Beauty"), should have stood up for herself. "It's nice," she should have said, "but it's not what I expected."