________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 21 . . . . June 18, 1999

cover One Magical Summer.

Nancy L. M. Russell.
Charlottetown, PEI.: Red Cliff Publishing, 1998.
104 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 0-9683485-0-5.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.

*** /4


Jodi-Lynn finally reached her favourite spot on the railing along the final turn. From here, she had a view of the entire track and the grandstands and, most importantly, the finish line. She clambered up onto the bottom railing, clutching her race program in one hand as she grabbed the top railing for balance.
The mystique of horses has always captured the attention of children, especially girls. The stories by Marguerite Henry, such as King of the Wind, Brighty, and others, are well-worn volumes in most school libraries. Even in the computer-crazed '90's, horse stories are still being written, with new series being published by several companies.

      One Magical Summer offers young readers a Canadian perspective of the world of horse racing. Set in Prince Edward Island in the present, the book presents Jodi-Lynn MacKinnon who comes from a family that has driven sulkies in Island races as far back as they can remember. Unfortunately, horse racing is in serious decline in Canada as gambling and video lottery terminals draw people's attention and money away from the track. The characters in this short novel are faced with bankruptcy if they pursue their emotional attachment to horses and racing. One family sadly gives up its horses and stable because of financial problems, and Jodi-Lynn's parents discuss the same course of action. Because Jodi-Lynn's life revolves around horses, she cannot accept such a happening, and so she sets out to win a high stakes race to pay the bills and keep her wonderful horse, Island Magic. Her efforts give her a broken arm but cause her visiting uncle, a champion driver in the U.S., to drive Island Magic to a win. Her parents do not have to sell the horse and a solution is found to the family's financial plight. As a result, not only do the MacKinnons stay in racing, but Jodi-Lynn may be able to pursue her dream of becoming a driver, herself, one day.

      Nancy L. M. Russell has provided a pleasant story with a happy ending, although the subplots reveal the sometimes unhappy realities of dealing with animals and finances. Set on white paper and double spaced, the vocabulary is carefully chosen, but not simple. It is appropriate for an interested reader at the lower end of the age scale and a struggling or reluctant reader at the upper end. This book will interest children who enjoy animal stories and those who yearn to see if everything turns out all right at the end.


Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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