________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 34 . . . . May 7, 2010


Horse Mad Heights. (Horse Mad, #6).

Kathy Helidoniotis.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2010.
329 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-997-1.

Subject Heading:
Horses-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4


The assembly hall was full of Year Seven girls of all shapes, sizes and hair colours, boarders and day girls. I sat close to Emily, shaking in my brand-new school… I looked down. Work boots! I’d gone to the riding centre that morning, come back, thrown on my uniform and forgotten to change my shoes!

I looked around, feeling panic rise in me like boiling water. No one else was wearing muddy work boots with bits of lucerne hay and probably horse manure embedded in the soles. Everyone else had on regulation black lace-up shoes described in the Linley Heights handbook. I had to change.
I nudged Em and pointed at my feet. She covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes wide.
‘They’ll put you on uniform detention,’ she hissed. ‘Try to cover ’em up.’
I was horrified. How was I going to hang on to my scholarship if I got detention on my first day? And what would happen in detention? Would I be locked in stocks and have wet sponges thrown at my head? Or would they skip that part and put me on the first train back to Shady Creek? There was a squillion possibilities. I didn’t like any of them.

Twelve-year-old Ashleigh Miller is leaving Shady Creek to attend a school that looks like a castle. Situated in Australia, it’s the only school where students sign up for equine studies and ride their own horses on the grounds. Here, she will learn from the best riding instructors and compete in polocrosse tournaments. Ashleigh is able to attend Linley Heights School because she won a riding scholarship, but this is no guarantee she can stay until the end of the year. One student’s jealously might get her kicked out, and another student’s fear of horses and germs might cause the entire riding program to be dismissed! Fortunately, Ashleigh has the determination to go after what she wants, and friends rooting for her to stay.

     Horse Mad Heights is the sixth book in the “Horse Mad” series. Ashley cannot get any more horse crazy than she already is, but she is maturing and facing challenges that many girls her age face. At home, money problems mount, and best friends stop calling. At school, teachers misunderstand situations and students jump to the wrong conclusions. Being the new girl at school is hard for Ashleigh, but she perseveres; even through a setback that lands her in a hospital, and continues to pursue a life that some girls can only dream about.

     You can learn a great deal about horses and riding by reading the books in the “Horse Mad” series. In this book, there is information on how to braid a horse’s tail and tips on how to improve a horse’s transitions. Seamlessly incorporated into the story, these facts add a reality to the storyline that some horse books lack.

     Author Kathy Helidoniotis has written several picture books for children, as well as the first five books in the “Horse Mad” series. Kathy lives in Australia with her family.


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.

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.