The first in a warm-hearted and adventurous trilogy about friendship, courage, a spirited girl and the love of horses. Jess is determined to rescue the filly of her dreams from a cruel owner, and in doing so restores a broken friendship.
Karen Wood has been involved with horses for most of her life. Her once-in-a-lifetime-horse is a little chestnut fellow called Reo. Karen has an Arts degree majoring in communications and a diploma in horticulture. She has syndicated a gardening column in several newspapers throughout Australia, published feature articles in various magazines, and published photographs in bushwalking guides. She is married with two children and lives on the Central Coast, New South Wales.
This book is the first in a new trilogy by Karen Wood. Set in rural Australia, the story’s central character is Jess, a teenage girl, who loves horses. Although no horse lover myself, the plot of this book contained enough mystery and drama to keep me reading. There is an interesting cast of characters, each with their own issues and foibles. The story opens with the start of the summer holidays. Jess and her ‘bestie’, Shara, are setting up a secure area for their horses to have a rest. Disaster happens: Jess’s horse, Diamond, is found stuck in a cattle grid and has to be put down. Jess suspects Shara knows more about this accident than she is letting on and their friendship is in jeopardy. Jess makes some new friends who encourage her to enter the campdrafting competition and win some money towards buying a new horse, Walkabout.
I would recommend this book for ten to fifteen year olds, though I think girls would enjoy it more than boys. Readers could identify with the issues Jess faces: relationship with parents, breakdown in friendships due to a misunderstanding, heartbreak over the loss of a beloved animal and dealing with unpleasant peers. There is even a hint of romance for Jess. The plot moves along at a cracking pace with no boring bits. The dialogue is interesting and realistic; and I did enjoy the interplays between the characters wondering if they could ever resolve their differences. As stated before, I am no horse lover but having tasted a chapter of the sequel, I look forward to reading the next two books.
Nova Gibson, Massey Primary School, NZ