________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 16 . . . . April 3, 2009

cover Horse Mad Academy (Horse Mad; 3).

Kathy Helidoniotis.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2009.
249 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-959-8.

Subject Heading:
Horses-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4


‘Well done, Ashleigh!’ Alex called. The grimace was replaced by a warm smile. ‘Well done.’ Honey walked calmly from the arena and I worked hard to keep my face from cracking as I pulled her up in line next to Brooke who leaned over and patted my knee. ‘Never mind!’ she said. ‘It’s only your first time. Mind you, nothing like that has ever happened to me, like, never! But you’ll get better.’

‘Thanks,’ I muttered, fixing my gaze on Juliette who was taking her turn in the arena. ‘Hey, I have a great idea!’ Brooke gasped. ‘What if you, like, get rid of that horse – mares are so high strung. Get yourself a gelding instead.’ My eyes narrowed and I clenched my teeth, ordering my mouth to behave. ‘You have a mare, Brooke.’

Brooke laughed, her white teeth flashing in the sunlight. ‘But I can handle her. Not everyone can handle a mare. You and Hinny obviously aren’t suited.’ ‘Her name’s Honey and she suits me fine,’ I said, fighting back tears. ‘I was only trying to help,’ Brooke said, her green eyes looking wounded. She turned her attention to Juliette who’d finished her test.

Molly had a try next and with Alex instructing, Rebel turned in a perfect first-time performance. It wasn’t fair. I had dreamed about Waratah Grove for months and now that I was actually here I stank! I decided I would see Mrs S and tell her myself. I was quitting the Grove and nobody was going to talk me out of it.

In Australia, you eat brekkie and put tomato sauce on your hot chips. You see Tassie Devils and brumbies in the wild, and, if you compete in horse events like the gymkhana or the Junior Cross-Country Riding Championship like Ashleigh Miller, you’d wear joddies.

    Horse Mad Academy is the third book in the “Horse Mad” series by Australian author Kathy Helidoniotis. In this book, Ashleigh will be attending the Waratah Grove Riding Academy for four weeks. At the academy, Ashleigh will be among some of the country’s best young riders. Attending the academy means 6:30 a.m. wake-up calls, homework and cabin duties. To graduate, grades must be above C in three categories; dressage, cross-country and showjumping. Graduates receive a trophy and certificate and the chance to win the rarely awarded Waratah Grove Cup.

     Ashleigh is very excited about training at the academy and being one of the many graduates at the end of four weeks. However, on the first day of dressage training, Ashleigh’s horse, Honey, is spooked. There is something about the dressage ring that scares Honey. There is nothing Ashleigh can do to control her. Ashleigh and Honey may be good at cross-country and showjumping, but without receiving a C or above in dressage, Ashleigh will not be graduating.

     While at the academy, Ashleigh misses her friend’s Jenna and Becky, but she isn’t alone for long. After a misunderstanding is resolved, she becomes friends with two girls from her cabin. They help her research Honey’s past, develop a new training routine for Honey, and help Honey learn how to ‘park.’ Together, they overcome challenges on and off the course and win big! One of the trio of friends is even awarded the Waratah Grove Cup!

     In Horse Mad Academy, Ashleigh is away from her best friends for the first time. She is also away from her mom and dad, who are expecting a baby, and she misses being home. She doesn’t miss her enemies, the Creepketeers, though, but they do make their presence known! They just happen to have a cousin attending the academy! And what she does to Ashleigh is much worse than anything the Creepketeers ever did to her back home.

     In the first book in the “Horse Mad” series, readers know Honey as the abandoned horse that Ashleigh rescued. In book three, readers will find out more about Honey’s past. Most of it isn’t good news, but there is one nice surprise. Honey has a talent Ashleigh never knew about!

     By the end of the book, Ashleigh is still an only child. Her mom has yet to give birth, but her parents do have surprising news for her when they pick her up from the academy. Something new is being built back home in Shady Creek, and Ashleigh just might be the right person to help the new owners out.

     A one page glossary of Australian words is included in the back of this story, but, unlike the first two books, there is no preview of the other books in the series.

     Kathy Helidoniotis has been a horse lover since the age of six. She plans to write six books in the “Horse Mad” series. Trained as a high school teacher, Kathy spends her time teaching, reading, and riding. She has three children and lives in Sydney.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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