CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 9 . . . .January 7, 2005
No one understands how important it is for 12-year-old Paulie to save Duke from auction. The old, cantankerous horse is to be sold to a butcher after the local stable where Paulie works is forced to close down.
Paulie loves horses more than anything. Mucking out the stalls, feeding and grooming the horses after school and on weekends enables her to be close to them. In return, stable manager Bob pays her a small wage, teaches her stable management, and allows her to exercise the horses whenever they aren't being used for lessons or rentals. They had struck up this arrangement after she had spent a year hanging around the stable, watching everything he did, and asking countless questions.
Duke is her favourite. At twenty-five years of age, Duke is a difficult and temperamental horse to handle, and Paulie knows what happens at auction to horses like Duke.
Paulie's large family can't afford to own or stable a horse, but she must find a way to save Duke from the Railway Three meat plant. That's where Nana comes in. Nana is her grandmother's mother. Old and frequently forgetful, Nana lives with her overly protective daughter. The house's backyard porch is her domain, and Paulie has spent many hours there, listening to the sound of the ocean in Nana's collection of conch shells and fingering the rough, ice-coloured crystals lining the windowsills. Paulie and her great-grandmother are very close, and Paulie isn't surprised when Nana shows up at the auction and successfully helps her bid for Duke. But once purchased, where can Duke stay? And how can a 12-year-old and her aged Nana possibly hide a horse in the porch at the rear of her grandmother's home?
At times humourous, at times heart-wrenching, The Week of the Horse is a story of a young girl who struggles for acceptance in a large family where other people's needs often supercede her own. The strong, intergenerational ties are prevalent throughout the story, not only between Paulie and Nana, but also between the young girl and Bob, the stable manager, who is forced to move away in search of employment when the stable closes.
Stories about horses continue to be popular, as reflected in the numerous paperback series for young readers today. Consider modern classics like Marguerite Henry's horse stories, Steven Farley's "Young Black Stallion" series, HarperCollins' "Thoroughbred" series, Sharon Siamon's "Mustang Mountain," Nikki Tate's "Stablemates" and "Riding Academy" by Alison Hart. The Week of the Horse is more than a book about a horse. It is the story of a spunky girl's courage against odds that seem insurmountable and the support she finds in unexpected places.
Carole Marion, a Branch Librarian with Calgary Public Library's Shawnessy Branch, has been working with youth and their caregivers for over sixteen years.
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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.