CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 10. . . .November 5, 2010.
Desert Rescue. (Wild Horse Creek, Bk. 4).
North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2010.
124 pp., pbk., $8.95.
Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.
Review by Aileen Wortley.
“We have at least a four-hour walk in rough terrain, leading the horses.” Dayna glanced at Mark’s floppy sneakers.” This desert is crawling with rattlesnakes and poisonous lizards. I know you want to look cool, but you might feel better with something else on your feet.”
“Like what?” Mark swiped his hand across his sweaty forehead. The hat Dayna had made him wear itched and his black clothes drew the heat to his body. He looked like a piece of burnt toast.
Dayna dove into a box of gear stashed in the front compartment of the trailer. “Try these.” She pulled out a pair of tall snakeskin boots and held them out to Mark. “They belong to my father.” She studied his feet. “They might fit.”
“I’m not wearing THOSE!” Mark shoved the boots away. “I am totally against using animal skin to make a pair of cowboy boots.” His chin went up. “Besides, I’d look ridiculous.”
“You’d look ridiculous with your leg black and rotting from a rattlesnake bite,” Dayna shot back. “You’re in the desert, and until it cools down, you have to walk. Try the boots."
In this, the fourth volume of the “Wild Horse Creek” series, readers find 13-year-old twins, Sophie and Liv, awaiting the arrival of brother Mark from their hometown of Vancouver. Eager to share the exciting new life they have discovered on their grandparents’ Arizonan ranch, they can’t wait to show him around. But Mark has changed. Morose and depressed, he is unable to adjust to ranch life and refuses to horse-ride with the twins.
Under duress, Mark reluctantly agrees to accompany the twins and their ranch friends to a horsemanship clinic out of town. En route home, they run afoul of horse smugglers intent on capturing the wild horse that Liv and companions have just rescued. In a desperate attempt to escape the smugglers, save the wild stallion and survive a violent desert storm, Mark has to play his part to ensure the safety of the group.
As with the previous titles in this series, Desert Rescue combines a sound literary standard with a credible plot involving taut drama. The ranch with its family history and local rivalries, beloved horses, expeditions in the Arizona desert, sibling love or antagonism and budding first romances are the same formulaic components as in other titles from this series. Tension is added via the struggle with the evil smugglers, and Mark’s difficulties in adjusting to ranch life bring a new dimension to the story. The delineations of Arizona landscape and nature are particularly memorable. Some of the characters could be more fully developed, but this detail will not deter the many eager, horse- loving fans aged 10-14 for whom the author cannot write fast enough. Sharon Siamon is best known for her highly successful “Mustang Mountain” and “Saddle Island” series which have sold over a million copies internationally. The author’s own passion for horses ensures the authenticity and credibility of this title, and readers will enjoy the realistic, fast paced adventure.
Aileen Wortley, a retired Children’s Librarian, lives in Toronto, ON.
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