Friday, May 9, 2014

A Hundred Horses by Sarah Lean

Nell goes to stay with relatives on their farm for the school holidays and there she discovers a herd of horses, a mysterious girl named Angel, and learns about herself, her family, and growing up.

That's a really blah summary but, boiled down to essentials, this is a book that has been written many, many times before. Overscheduled girl who doesn't feel like her mom notices/loves her? Check. Conflicts with dead/divorced parent? Check. Goes to stay with slightly crazy relatives in the country? Check. Meets eccentric neighbor girl who veers from wild to magical? Check.

Ultimately though, there's nothing wrong with that. Middle grade thrives on repetition as much as the "read it again!" picture book crowd or the Magic Treehouse addicts. The unique, the unusual, the completely new (assuming anything really is that unique) is more than likely just going to sit on your shelf.

Does the author capture the feelings and thoughts of an eleven year old girl? Yes. Is her writing magical and her story both heartwarming and true? Yes. Does it have elements that the average reader of this genre will enjoy (horses, friendship, family difficulties...)? Yes.

That makes it a good book, even if it's nothing ground-breaking or unusual.

Verdict: If you've got a really tight budget, this isn't the first title I'd recommend, but if you have space for some additional purchases, definitely add this story. It's a great example of its genre and is sure to gather enthusiastic readers.

ISBN: 9780062122292; Published 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to the library's wishlist

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