CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 20. . . .January 28th, 2010.
Horse Mad Whispers. (Horse Mad 7).
North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2010.
309 pp., pbk., $8.95.
Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.
**1/2 / 4
Demi secured Cougar's reins to a loop of twine on the arena fence then approached the line of riders, checking girths, stirrup leathers and throatlashes. She stopped at the end of the line and counted. "Where's Ashleigh?"
India raised her hand demurely. "She's not here, Demi."
Demi grimaced. "That much is obvious. Does anyone know where she is?"
"I'm here." I stood up in the grandstand. I wasn't going to hide.
"Where's your horse?" Demi's face was dark. She moved towards me. The line of riders stared.
"In the paddock," I said.
Demi exhaled sharply. "May I ask why?"
"I'm not riding today," I said. My hands started to shake so I shoved one under each arm.
"Out!" Demi cried. She was shrill. It was like she'd been desperate to tell me off, like she finally had an excuse to unleash all the anger I feared she'd been boiling up inside her and now there was no way she could control it. She pointed at the gate of the arena. I could hear murmuring from the riders and felt my face burn. I left the grandstand and stood outside the arena where none of the riders would be able to see or hear.
Ever since the accident, Ashleigh Miller's dreams about horses have turned into nightmares. She survived a fall from a horse, but she's finding the repercussions hard to life with. There is the physical pain, but worse, is the guilt. The mistakes she made while riding Lightning could cost him his life and be the basis for the closure of the riding program at Linley Heights School in Australia. This seventh story in the "Horse Mad" series alternates between Ashleigh's time at boarding school and her home in Shady Creek. After talking to a counselor at school, Ashleigh is able to ride again, but to stay "horse mad forever", she'll need help from her best friends. They have competitions to win and a fundraiser to plan. At 12 years of age, Ashleigh is learning the future is uncertain and the past can be heartbreaking.
Girls who love reading horse books will welcome the author's abundant inclusion of interesting horse related information in the storyline. The rules of Polocrosse and the study of natural horsemanship are at the centre of this book's plot. Ashleigh's issues with her enemies and the Creepketeers have not diminished, but her feelings towards one of guys in the group take a surprising turn. The book ends with a beautiful wedding, but it's the knock on Ashleigh's door which brings with it bad news that will have fans restless for the next book.
Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.
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