Cover Image: The True Story of Zippy Chippy

The True Story of Zippy Chippy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thank you North South Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. I love this book and Zippy Chippy. As a lifelong horse racing fan I was aware of Zippy but not his entire story. What a great read for kids and what a story of perseverance and love. Sure Zippy lost more races than any other racehorse, but his trainer tried and tried and eventually the fans came to love Zippy who certainly had a rather colorful personality. In retirement, Zippy was more popular than other horses in the horse retirement center and folks came from all over to see Zippy, have photos with him and donate money for retired race horses. Good story, illustrations could have been a bit better but just a solid effort with a fine Authors Note about Zippy Chippy at the end.
Was this review helpful?
Zippy Chippy is a racehorse who never won a race in 100 tries.  Arte Bennett tells his story in the children's book The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn't.  Despite coming from a strong bloodline, Zippy Chippy never ran fast, and sometimes just stood there in the shoot when a race started.

Despite his history of losing--or not even starting--every race, his playful personality made him a crowd favorite, even among people betting on races.  Due to the notoriety he gained, he showed "you can lose and lose and lose and still be a winner."

This is a cute story with cute illustrations by Dave Szalay, especially for horse lovers and race fans.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
Was this review helpful?
This was a cute book.  I liked the underlying message of losers can still be winners. There were a few of space and grammatical issues.  I don't  know if that's because I read it on my Kindle though.
Was this review helpful?
This is a great picture book. The story is engaging, you keep hoping that Zippy will win a race. The illustrations are beautiful and the character is likable. 

This is one for any child's bookshelf, classroom and library. What a wonderful way to illustrate the fact that our value doesn't change when we lose.

The publisher provided an ARC through Netgalley. I have voluntarily read this book for review, giving my honest personal opinions and thoughts
Was this review helpful?
“Winners Don’t Always Finish First” adorns shirts, hats, etc. referring to Zippy Chippy.  Introduce your child to this loveable horse while learning interesting facts about the racehorse that couldn’t win a race.

Zippy Chippy is a horse with winning bloodlines.  But he cannot win a race.  He loses so often that he begins to attract people to come see him.  He shows the children not to give up but to keep trying.  Try even if you have to do it 100 times.

This is such an interesting story.  The author gives us the story in such a way that the reader will fall in love with hi long before the end of the book.  The illustration on the cover is fun and colorful.  This style is continued throughout the book making it seem like fiction, though, it is true.

***Go to oldfriendsequine.org to support Zippy Chippy and other retired racehorses.  Without this beautiful farm, horses like Zippy Chippy may end up on the inner plate in other countries.  Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of the story for more information.


I received an ARC from NorthSouth Books, Inc. through NetGalley.  This in no way affects my opinion or rating of this book.  I am submitting this review voluntarily and am under no obligation to do so.
Was this review helpful?
This would be a perfect book for a child who loves horses. It’s cute, and shows us that nobody is a loser!
Was this review helpful?
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.     Thank you NetGalley!

What an adorable story.   My ten and six year old both liked the story.       The illustrations were great.
Was this review helpful?
I think that kids interested in horses will enjoy this book. The horse was a minor celebrity and will generate interest in purchasing and borrowing (library).
Was this review helpful?
Winning isn't everything, and this true story of Zippy the horse being very good at losing is cute (but short).  At first I thought that Zippy didn't like to race, since he did things that looked like he didn't, but later on it says that Zippy loved racing and was sad to retire...so that was a bit confusing.
Was this review helpful?
I had to look this horse up on the internet. Pretty funny, but cute story of a true life horse! He reminds me a bit of a real life Ferdinand the bull! I think kids will enjoy this story, especially those who love horses. I am happy Zippy was retired to a good farm. The illustrations were fun! Zippy looks so sneaky!
Was this review helpful?
I read The True Story of Zippy Chippy to  my 6-year-old daughter, and she was delighted at Zippy's story. Zippy was one of the best horses at losing -- so much that he gained fans for it. 

The story will work best as a read-aloud or partner read, as some of the vocabulary and sentence structures might be challenging for newer readers. The illustrations were cute. 

Readers who enjoy non-fiction with humorous animal characters might enjoy reading about Chippy.

The extensive author's note at the end reveals some info that I wish was included in the main story, such as how Zippy did sometimes race and even place.

Thanks to Netgalley and North South Books for my digital copy in exchange for a review.
Was this review helpful?
I usually enjoy animal biographies more than I did this one. I think part of the problem is that I felt like I was missing something for much of the time I was reading.

Zippy Chippy was one of the worst racehorses of all time. He never won a single race in his long career. But his owner kept pushing him to keep trying. Now, he holds a special place in people's hearts as a lovable loser.

Part of the problem I have with the story is that it makes it sound like Zippy Chippy didn't want to be racing at all. He'd bite his trainers, buck people off, and even just stand still after the starting bell. So Felix's perseverance started to seem like animal exploitation. Then, I was taken aback when the book referred to racing as Zippy Chippy's "passion". He apparently got depressed when he was first retired. This doesn't seem to jibe with what came before; if he really loved racing so much, why didn't he run? (In fact, he did. The author's note at the end states that he actually had a sizable number of second- and third-place finishes. The first part of the book, unfortunately, makes the horse look like he's so stubborn he refuses to run at all.)

Zippy Chippy sounds like quite the character, and I'm happy to hear that he's enjoying his retirement and celebrity at a sanctuary in New York. I just wish the book had been a little clearer about his career in the actual text; having to rely on the author's note at the end to get a clear picture of his life is a bit disappointing.
Was this review helpful?
Honestly, I love horse stories. I have had a bit of a horse (and just a general animal) fascination since I was little. I drew horses, I had books about horses with posters, and fictional horsebooks (Saddleclub and Thoroughbred, anyone?), and I loved movies about horses. I still do. Recently I had been reading a handful of horse-centric picture books, and I was excited to see this as a "Read Now" option. But is it actually any good? 

Let's start with the art. I am lucky enough to get to see a lot of horse art these days. A personal friend of mine earned her degree in art and 99% of her artwork involves horses. So at this point, I've also seen a lot of art with some solid anatomy work, and everyday I get my daily dose of photographs of real horses. I have to say that in general, the artwork is pretty nice. However, there are a couple spreads where the anatomy just doesn't look quite right, based on what I've been seeing from an actual horse owner. I understand that picture books go for cartoony imagery and sometimes exaggerated features or poses, but there are times where proportionally, even in a cartoon way, Zippy just does not look right. There's something about his chest that looks too broad in one panel for the angle, another where the perspective looks odd, and there are some images where Zippy looks like he has toothpicks for legs, without his body looking like it lines up. I don't have an art degree myself, and I may be utterly wrong. After all, Szalay is the Associate Art professor in this situation, not me. I don't draw horses as much as I used to when I was a kid, and I understand that things can be cartoony and be okay, particularly in children's literature. For me though, this small handful of images just does not sit right to my eyes visually for some reason. Otherwise, I like the art and I like how youthful and jovial Zippy is shown as being throughout the book. However, I honestly have to say that illustration wise, there are other books featuring horses, that I would much rather have framed or that I would rather show to my art- and story-loving friends. The artwork is fun, but it isn't really my favorite. After looking at some more of Szalay's work, it seems like there is a pattern of slightly disproportionate rumps and chest to neck ratios on various animal species, so this may just be a stylistic marker of his work. If so, I applaud the consistency.  I do really enjoy the general presentation of Zippy and I am very much impressed with the handling of backgrounds (ex: the racetracks). The backgrounds are visually appealing and detailed with very crisp and clear lines. I think I'm just also very spoiled with the realism and quality of the horse artwork that I see on a regular basis. 

Let's move on to the story now. I have never before heard of Zippy, in my entire life. At first, while I was reading, I thought there was no way this story could be true. However, I kept reading and I did some Internet cruising and sure enough, Zippy is real and so is his atrocious racing record. Zippy really never won a race in his life. Yet, he is in a line of descendants that includes the great Man o' War. Who would've guessed that? Certainly not me. My family and I like to joke that if a sports team is going to be awful, then they need to be the absolute BEST at being awful. Zippy definitely went by that motto and it seems he was the best at being the worst racehorse of all time. There is truly no other way to say it. He lost insanely, but boy, does that horse have some spirit. 

What I think is even more enjoyable about the story, than Zippy's jovial self, is the fact that the man who eventually owned him, Felix Monserrate, decided to continue trying himself. Instead of throwing away Zippy to the highest bidder on the failed thoroughbred market, he kept entering Zippy and kept training him, even when none of his efforts proved fruitful. While this story is about Zippy, I think a lot of credit should also go to Felix. Although there was never really a true payoff as far as a win goes, I think Zippy did win in getting a family who allowed him to be himself, regardless of his failures. I think that is even more important than the cult following that he got over time. I don't necessarily think that continuing to push when you fail is the best option in every case, but I do believe that if you're doing what you love, even if you fail, it works out if you have the right support behind you, to love you anyway. Failure for failure's sake, is just failure. Failure and perseverance, and the ability to love so openly and freely, are what makes it a winning story for me. It isn't that Zippy never gave up, it is that even with how MUCH he continually failed, his family kept housing him, feeding him, and caring for him. Even after retiring to a farm with other retired racehorses, he has a family that cares. It's good to persevere through hardship, but it is always better to have love along the way, because if you succeed and have no one to share that success with, is winning really all that worth it either? 

The only issues I have with the story, is that there didn't seem to be enough of Felix's daughter, Marisa. Marisa, in the book, is one of the main reasons that Zippy's demeanor changes and how Zippy becomes largely accepted into a family. However, she is only in three pictures, and talked about in two-ish pages. After that, the story immediately goes back to full focus on Zippy racing. As fun as it is to hear about a failed racehorse losing every race he is ever in, even against human competitors, I feel like most of the heart of the story was in the interactions Zippy had with people. I think Marisa should've been more involved with the story, if she truly was largely involved in Zippy's life and changing the perceptions of his temperament. 

Overall, I think this is a really fun book. The illustrations are rather solid, despite not being my personal favorite. The story is charming and enjoyable, and there is a lot to learn from it. While there are some edits that I would personally make, that I think would make the story better, I think the story does speak a lot for itself as it is. It is okay in its current form, but I really would have loved to see a little bit more of the human-horse relationship that is so stressed among horse trainers and owners, and which has a glimpse of shine within this book. This is a fun overview of Zippy and his racing career, and it definitely made me want to learn more about Zippy, so that is definitely a good feeling to invoke in a reader when it comes to non-fiction, biographical works like this. With a tiny bit of expansion in the aforementioned area, I could definitely see this book being exceptional and a favorite of horse lovers. In its present form, based on my personal preferences and interpretations, I give this book a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯. 

This is a very informative and entertaining book and I hope it does well when it is released next February. I think there is plenty of room in libraries for more books about animals and their stories. I for one am a big fan of hearing and reading about them.
Was this review helpful?
This books was a fun read about a little known race horse. Zippy has great personality and even though he lost many races he most definitely was not a loser. Some of the vocabulary is a little difficult but in a home or classroom setting it can be be explained. Very cute book-darling illustrations!
Was this review helpful?
Cute children's story! This would be a good book to show children that not everyone wins at everything. Zippy may not won races, but he wins at enjoying life.
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting non fiction story. However I didn’t think there was enough to hold interest for a younger reader.
Was this review helpful?
This book was a great read--both for kids and adults. This book had great figurative language like "his running was more like a gentle breeze." This book is a fast read for adults, but the story is great. I read this to my own kids, as well as a language group within my work with kids at schools. We talked about vocabulary such as prankster and rambunctious, as well as the rich pictures the author painted with words. I loved picturing Zippy eating the various sweets, given his sweet tooth. I loved the subtle, but important points brought up throughout of Zippy's losses, but persistence in racing. The quote "Zippy loved being a race horse, it was in his blood. He just wasn't terribly good at it" is so important--for kids and adults alike to hear. You don't have to be the best at something to like doing it. When Zippy holds his head high, despite the losses is such an important concept as well. There's no reason for people not to be proud of their persistence in trying various activities. By the end of the book everyone was rooting for Zippy. The authors note was just as interesting as the rest of the book, with more detail of the horse Zippy. I'd never heard of Zippy prior to this book, but loved cheering him on, the authors colorful pictures. I'll be seeking out more information about Zippy!
Was this review helpful?
A lovely true story of failed racehorse Zippy Chippy, who after no lack of trying, failed to win a race. It conveys a lovely message to children that even if you're not the best at something, you're a winner just by taking part. Added to the wonderful illustrations, this book will delight young readers.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Zippy Chippy, what a cute name. Zippy is a Pedigree horse, but he doesn't like to race. He likes to play pranks. His trainer was shaking his head on what to do with Zippy. Never give up, always go for your dreams
Was this review helpful?
Based on the tale of a real racehorse, The True Story of Zippy Chippy was absolutely charming.  Though he never won a race, Zippy Chippy loved racing.  He lost race after race after race, but never lost heart on the track.  He developed many fans and was known for his winning personality.  This is an encouraging book and the illustrations are fun to look at.  Children will enjoy reading about Zippy’s personality and his never-ending love of racing—even though he was never the best on the field.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?