________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 12. . . .November 20, 2009


Horse Mad Western. (Horse Mad, #5).

Kathy Helidoniotis.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2009.
259 pp., pbk, $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-996-4.

Subject Heading:
Horses-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4



“Ashleigh Louise Miller!”

I sighed and held up my hands. If she’d typed up a confession and handed me a pen I’d have signed it. “I told them there were horse-and-rider eating snakes. But I never said anything about roaming the streets.”

“You need to ring Mrs. McMurray and apologize,” Mum said, her cheeks flushing. “I just can’t believe you’d say something like that to two girls on an overseas holiday. Don’t you remember being new to Shady Creek?”

“Only too well.” I folded my arms, so mad my head throbbed.

“Ring now and apologize.”

I stood up. “But, Mum!”

Mum stood as well. “But, Mum nothing. Apologize or you’re grounded!”

My mouth dropped open. “That’s so unfair! You should’ve heard what they were saying to me. I gave them the best horses, but nothing was good enough for them. Nothing!”

Ashleigh’s life revolves around horses. She rescues them, works with them, owns them and is building a future around them. In Horse Mad Western, Ashleigh is going to learn something new about horses- how to ride them Western style. Unfortunately, the person doing part of the training is her worst enemy- Flea Fowler. In eight weeks, Ashleigh Miller will be competing in her first Western Riding Show. It will be difficult, but her riding instructor likes to challenge everyone at the Shady Creek Riding Club. Until the day of the Riding Show, 11-year-old Ashleigh and her best friend, Becky Cho, will be hearing new lingo, trying on new riding clothes, and learning skills such as the Western walk, neck-reining, and the quarter method.

     Horse Mad Western is the fifth book in the “Horse Mad” series by Australian author Kathy Helidoniotis. Ashleigh’s sworn enemies and best friends are back, but in this book she’s surprised when she sees a more helpful, responsible side of one of the Creepketeers, and a more boy-crazy side of her friend, Jenna. Ashleigh is also still busy training and watching out for horses. She is dutifully taking care of the two horses she owns and the many horses she works with, and watching how other owners treat their horses. It’s when two spoiled brats and a spiteful competitive rider cross her path that Ashleigh makes choices that put her job, her reputation, and other people’s safety in jeopardy.

     Set in Australia and leading up to Ashleigh’s twelfth birthday party at her dream location, Horse Mad Western has a one page glossary of defined Australian slang and summaries of the first four books in the series. Girls who love horses will be drawn to the attractive and colorful covers of these books. All the stories combine riding techniques, horse jokes and facts, and horse care tips into realistic stories about girls growing up and dealing with change. In this book, that means dealing with misunderstandings and difficult people and learning more about yourself and your potential.

     Australian Kathy Helidoniotis is the author of the “Horse Mad” series and many other books for children, including Animal Opposites and Lucas the Littlest Lizard. A trained teacher, Kathy enjoys writing, reading and riding.


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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