________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 13 . . . .March 3, 2006


Swift Horse. (Mustang Mountain, 8).

Sharon Siamon.
North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2005.
176 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55285-659-3.

Subject Headings:
Horses-Juvenile fiction.
Accidents-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Shelly Tyler.

** /4



"...but I didn't care because my parents were getting together again. I could live in my old house in New York, be near my friend Meg, go back to our old school. I even gave you my horse, my Shadow, because I was going home." She grabbed the note back from Becky and smacked it with her hand. "And now this. I'm not going home. My whole life is unraveling like a cheap sweater!"


Alison is an almost-16-year-old girl with high hopes for happiness but living with dashed dreams. First of all, she finds out her parents are not getting back together, and then she realizes she gave away a horse she loved. Alison feels like everyone and everything are going against her plans. She is forced to move back with her mother to a small apartment after living for the last while on the open plains of Mustang Mountain with her cousin's family. Alison feels the key to her happiness will be to buy herself a new horse, and no one better stop her! Despite the fact that she doesn't have any money, she goes in search of the perfect barrel-jumping horse. On her first trip out, she finds "the one," the horse of her dreams, who is named Skipper Bug. The only problem is that Skipper belongs to someone else, a young girl named Kristy, and she is not willing to sell.

"Sell my horse?" Kristy stopped dead. Skipper shied and snorted at the sudden change. "No!" She shook her head firmly. "I am not interested in selling him-ever."

     Things change when Kristy is faced with a sick father and a ranch in need of repairs. She decides helping her family out is more important than keeping her beloved horse, and she agrees to sell Skipper to Alison for a steep price of twenty thousand dollars. Alison has some fast talking to do to convince her mother that spending the money on a horse will make everything better. That is until Alison and Skipper are in a terrible accident, virtually ending the horse's barrel racing career.

     This story will be of interest to kids who have been following the “Mustang Mountain” series of books. I found this book to contain far too many storylines to follow. The character of Alison is not a good role model for young girls, although I am not entirely sure if the author was counting on that anyway. The reader does not feel a connection to Alison, and there is no desire for her to succeed with any of her selfish plans. The story ends with her being a good person, but really the reader cannot forget her self-serving behavior throughout the book. Alison is starting to have feelings for young men, but the two she is involved with in the book are entering university. Given the book’s intended audience, I don't feel they will relate to this mature storyline. While I would not recommend this book as a separate purchase, if you already have the rest of the series, it likely makes sense to have this one too.

Recommended with reservations.

Shelly Tyler is a reference librarian with the Manitoba Department of Education Library in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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