Children's Book Author

Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop


Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop 

  • Illustrator: John Manders
  • Published by Sleeping Bear Press

Finnegan is a horse. But he is not just any horse. Finnegan is a proud member of the New York City Police Department. He and his human partner, Officer T. J. Fox, are part of the NYPD Mounted Unit. Together they make one ten-foot cop! Each morning, after roll call, Finnegan and T. J. take to the streets, a familiar and welcome sight to the people who live in the area. Times Square is their beat and it’s a busy one. More than one million people move through it every day, from New Yorkers on their way to work to the thousands of tourists who visit the popular area. It would be very easy to get lost in this rushing crowd. One day, as Finnegan and T. J. move through a fairly routine day, that’s exactly what happens to one little girl. And it’s Finnegan to the rescue!

Reading Today Online Reviews “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop”
Reviewed on 28 August 2013

Meet ten-year-old Finnegan, a 1,256 pound professional wearing steel shoes! Finnegan, a horse, is a part of NYPD Mounted Unit. Together with Officer Fox, they form a splendid 10-foot cop pair. Finnegan’s rounds take him through one of the busiest districts in the world. The beat includes Times Square, through which a million and half people pass every day. Even among all those people, Finnegan is a celebrity. One day during their regular beat, Finnegan and Fox hear about a missing child. All foot searches have returned empty handed. Finnegan has a hunch. Could it be right? Readers who check out this delightful book will find out more about the sensitivity and intelligence of this professional pair. The book’s endearing words and its whimsical pictures and colorful spreads evoke a special mood that will make readers smile and linger. This is a perfect way to introduce non-traditional careers to young readers.

School Library Journal Reviews “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop”
Reviewed on 1 May 2013

Finnegan, a horse, and his partner, Officer Fox, patrol the Times Square area of New York City as part of the NYPD Mounted Unit. While on duty, they stop to talk with street vendors, locals, and a group of children from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Finnegan is impressed with the students’ knowledge of horses. One young girl in particular, Maggie, presses her head against Finnegan’s face and pets his mane. Later that day, the partners get a call that a child is missing. Officer Fox dismounts to follow a lead. Finnegan breaks his trained behaviors and moves down an alley when he hears a rustling. There, he finds Maggie hiding in a box because she got separated from her group and became frightened when she heard so many strangers calling her name. Finnegan is a hero. He delights in the applause and cheers as he walks back through Times Square to see his name and picture on the digital news sign. The story is told by Finnegan and contains some excellent, horse-specific vocabulary and facts about the Mounted Unit in NYC. However, the book is long on text, and some elements of the story are extraneous to the central plot. The vivid illustrations capture the bustle of the Big Apple and the good-natured relationship that Finnegan and Officer Fox have with their city.

Las Vegas Review-Journal Reviews “Finnegan & Fox”
Reviewed on 23 April 2013

“It was the scariest half-hour of your life.”

You were somewhere with Mom or Dad, and they let go of your hand for just a minute. Just a minute, and suddenly you were in a sea of legs with no idea what happened.

You were totally, completely lost.

You might’ve cried a little but honestly, you knew what to do: you looked for a security guard or policeman and asked for help, knowing you’d be safe. And once you’ve read “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop” by Helen L. Wilbur, illustrated by John Manders, you’d look for the biggest policeman you could find.

You’ve got to be calm and cool to be a New York City cop. It takes nerves of steel and months of training because anything can happen on a busy city street.

Nobody knows that more than 10-year-old, 1,256-pound Finnegan the horse. He and his human partner, Tyrone Jefferson Fox (or T.J., for short) work the Times Square beat in New York , a famous place where visitors and tourists like to go. It’s always crowded there.

Every morning, Finnegan and Fox start their day by checking the neighborhood. They say “hello” to Hussan with his fruit-and-vegetable cart. Officer Serafina Ruiz always gives T.J. a big smile. Food-Cart Tony gives T.J. his morning coffee and pats Finnegan on the nose because, really, who doesn’t like a horse?

For sure, everybody in Times Square did on that one day when lots of people stopped to say hello to officers Finnegan and Fox. That included a group of kids on a school visit from Cheyenne, Wy. One of them, a little girl named Maggie who loved horses, really fell in love with Finnegan. Finnegan liked her, too.

But much as he would have liked to be hugged all day, Finnegan had to get back to work with his partner. There were emergencies to watch out for, tourists to help, people to direct, traffic to oversee and tickets to write. It was another busy day in Times Square with lots to do, including — uh oh! — looking for a little girl who was lost and probably very frightened.

A missing little girl from Cheyenne ?

Most kids might think that horses and big cities don’t go together. They probably think that horses belong in grassy corrals, not crowded streets. Which is why most kids will be delighted with “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop.”

Wilbur’s story will surely make future law officers want to join the mounted patrol, while young horse lovers will want a horse exactly like Finnegan. Heck, after reading this story, I wanted a horse like Finnegan — partly because Wilbur gave him a winning personality, and partly because Manders made Finnegan almost human in his illustrations.

If your 3- to 6-year-old is an animal lover, dreams of becoming a police officer, or (hearts) NY, then this adorable book is one they’ll ask you to read again and again.

For them, for sure, “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop” will be quite arresting.

Booklist Reviews “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop”
Reviewed on 15 April 2013

Narrated by a 10-year-old horse with wide eyes and evident pride in his work, this picture book about a mounted-police unit features a girl lost in Times Square. Don’t worry; it’s not scary—Finnegan is such an upbeat horse-narrator that even the youngest readers will sense that he is coming to the rescue. The story begins with Finnegan introducing himself and his beanpole partner, T. J. Fox. He discusses the people they see on their Times Square beat, including the fruit and vegetable seller, the traffic officer, and tourists from all over. Manders’ cartoonlike watercolors, featuring lots of bulbous noses and toothy smiles, make Times Square seem like a hectic but friendly multicultural universe. When a little girl from Wyoming gets separated from her group, Finnegan and Fox set off to look for her. In an unlikely but picture-book-perfect twist, Finnegan wanders off to look down an alleyway and finds the scared child. His heroics bring him fame—and, even better, an apple. The last page features further mounted-police information, including worldwide use, training, and horse retirement.

The Simple Moms Reviews “Finnegan and Fox: the Ten-Foot Cop”
Reviewed on 1 March 2013

I love finding great kids books and our shelves desperately need some new material. While on my search to expand our literary horizons I was ecstatic to rediscover a great publishing company based here in Michigan, Sleeping Bear Press.

While Sleeping Bear Press has a nice long list of books to select from we were lucky enough to get a chance to look at one of their new releases, Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop by Helen L. Wilbur. Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop was an instant hit with my girls and after our first reading I had immediate requests for an encore performance (so you know it really was liked)!

The book is all about Finnegan (a horse) and Fox (his police officer partner) who work in Times Square. During the course of the story Finnegan helps rescue a lost little girl. Everything turns out okay in the end, but the thematic elements definitely helped hold the attention of my eldest through to the end of the story.

It’s interesting to see New York City from the perspective of a horse and this different view of things really resonated with my 5-year-old. Before our first read-through I had her browse the illustrations (which, thanks to Illustrator John Manders, are fun to look at all on their own).

The book was informative and entertaining, I learned along with my kids about how the mounted police horses are specially trained, selected, and cared for. There’s also some additional facts and tidbits included at the end of the book regarding mounted police.

Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop is geared for Ages 6-9 and a reading level of Grade 4. My 5-year-old was captivated by the book the whole way through, but her 3-year-old sister lost interest about halfway through (which was surprisingly long for a 3-year-old so I knew she liked the book as well).

Examiner.com Reviews “Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop”
Reviewed on 10 February 2013

“Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop” is written by Helen L. Wilbur and illustrated by John Manders. It’s about a New York cop and his partner, a horse named Finnegan.

The story includes information about how a police horse is trained, but it’s also about one day in the life of a police horse and his human partner. Included in the people the partners meet during the course of the day are a guy with his fruit and vegetable cart, a society lady walking her dog, an attractive policewoman directing traffic, and a coffee seller.

There are also many tourists who want to pet Finnegan and ask questions about him. Some are native New Yorkers who have never seen a horse and others are visitors from near and far.

When one of the tourists, a young girl named Maggie, goes missing, Finnegan and Fox are on the job. Finnegan is the hero who finds the missing child, and the news travels fast. He is amply rewarded with an apple from Hassan, the fruit and veggie seller.

The colorful illustrations deserve a comment or two. John Manders worked hard to get the human character just right. On his blog, Manders says, “I had a difficult time getting this character to look just right.”

At first, the sketch showed a police officer who looked too silly. But when Manders cleverly asked the editors what actor they pictured as Fox, it made drawing the policeman much easier. Notice how the figures in the foreground are bold and bright, but the colors fade to pastels in the background.

There is also an informational page at the end about mounted police, how they are trained, and qualifications for becoming a mounted police officer.

This is a great book for classrooms learning about community helpers or how animals help us.

Publisher’s Weekly (Feb. 2013)
It’s a classic New York City buddy-cop story, but one of the officers is 10 years old, weighs more than 1,200 pounds, and has four hooves. Wilbur (F Is for Friend-ship: A Quilt Alphabet) offers a lighthearted tribute to the NYPD’s Mounted Unit, with seen-it-all narration provided by a horse named Finnegan, who patrols Times Square with his partner, Tyrone Jefferson Fox. Despite some wisecracking comments (“Not everyone feels comfortable around a police officer. People can be annoying. But who doesn’t like a horse?”), it’s clear Finnegan takes his job seriously. And after a day spent greeting tourists and neighborhood regulars, he gets a chance to prove his mettle by finding a lost girl. Manders (Cowboy Christmas), working in gouache and pencil, is in fine form, capturing the energy and diversity of the city in his bustling cartoons, as well as the story’s emotional highs and lows—the shadowy blue alley that the lost girl winds up in looks truly scary, and seeing Finnegan the hero’s image on the giant signs of Times Square makes for a fittingly triumphant conclusion.

— Abby Nolan, Booklist

Finnegan and Fox: The Ten-Foot Cop. Wilbur, Helen L. (Author) , Manders, John (Illustrator) Feb 2013. 32 p. Sleeping Bear, hardcover, $16.95. (9781585367849). Narrated by a 10-year-old horse with wide eyes and evident pride in his work, this picture book about a mounted-police unit features a girl lost in Times Square. Don’t worry; it’s not scary—Finnegan is such an upbeat horse-narrator that even the youngest readers will sense that he is coming to the rescue. The story begins with Finnegan introducing himself and his beanpole partner, T. J. Fox. He discusses the people they see on their Times Square beat, including the fruit and vegetable seller, the traffic officer, and tourists from all over. Manders’ cartoonlike watercolors, featuring lots of bulbous noses and toothy smiles, make Times Square seem like a hectic but friendly multicultural universe. When a little girl from Wyoming gets separated from her group, Finnegan and Fox set off to look for her. In an unlikely but picture-book-perfect twist, Finnegan wanders off to look down an alleyway and finds the scared child. His heroics bring him fame—and, even better, an apple. The last page features further mounted-police information, including worldwide use, training, and horse retirement.

  • 2014 Bank Street Best Books of the Year for Children, Winner, 2014
  • Creative Child Award Seal of Excellence Award, Winner, 2013

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