CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 15 . . . .April 1, 2005
Are you a huge fan of horses? Are you interested in find out how to train them, prevent illnesses and injuries, handle them, ride them properly, enter a competition with them...even organize your own? If so, then this is the book for you! If this it too much information and you simply want an interesting horse story with a plot that flows smoothly and effortlessly, then reach for The Week of the Horse by Jocelyn Reekie or Sharon Siamon's Wild Horse.
It is obvious that author Colleen Rutherford Archer knows and loves horses. She owns and operates a small stable in Ontario, and she has years of experience running a therapeutic riding school, much like the mother in this book. However, the tale she spins is encumbered by didactic details about horses that become intrusive and cumbersome to readers who do not share her passion.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra Davies and her mother are looking for a new horse for their stable in the Canadian Shields. After exhausting all the ads in their local newspaper, they come across Warrior, a big-boned, iron-gray, undisciplined Hanoverian cross that is not at all compatible with the sensible grade horses required for the therapeutic school they operate. Kyra is mesmerized by his wild temperament and the grace with which he moves, even though she realizes none of the students could safely handle him. She wants this horse and negotiates extra duties with her mom so she can train him herself.
Mrs. Davies is raising Kyra by herself, following her husband's death of a heart attack two years ago. She is independent and self-reliant, and the close bond between mother and daughter is evident throughout the story. Kyra is an exemplary daughter, a refreshing change from many of the young adult novels today. Her friends share her interest in horses; peer pressure and competition do not enter into their lives. The book reads like a year-in-the-life of a teenager whose existence focuses around her family stable, her friends who help out and stable their horses there, the therapeutic classes, the competition she enters and runs, and the care and training of the horses.
The equestrian terms and details used by Archer appear accurate and precise, given her background the authoritative tone she uses throughout the book.
What follows is a long list of questions to which the students are asked to visualize the answers. The profusion of equestrian details certainly detracts from the story line. Even the potential conflicts set up by the author, like Jason's resistance and Warrior's wildness, resolve themselves smoothly, robbing the plot of inherent excitement. It was difficult to see where the story was heading, and it was not clear to this reader until close to the end of the book that Warrior was the thread that wove together the story line.
The physical layout of this trade paperback may confuse readers. The cover art and pen and ink illustrations give it the appearance of a book for elementary grade students, but the level of details and age of the main character make it more suitable for young teens.
Recommended with Reservations.
Carole Marion is a Youth Services Librarian with the Calgary Public Library.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.