Friday, August 14, 2015

DK Adventures: Horse Club by Patricia J. Murphy

When I first saw these advertised, I knew they would be huge hits among my patrons. My kids absolutely love nonfiction/fiction hybrids and DK is well-known for picking high-interest topics. I read this as a preparation for my book club, since one of the kids had expressed an interest in horses.

The framing story is about a girl named Emma who, along with her older sister Amanda, absolutely love horses. Emma is thrilled that she can finally join the Horse Club at school. With Amanda as president, she's sure they can come up with some great ideas - and they do! After a lot of hard work, they're able to take the whole club to horse camp over winter break. Once there, Emma finds out it's not exactly as she'd imagined; she has a frightening experience with her horse and her older sister has started pulling away from her to have her own friends and interests. But with lots of hard work and some last-minute luck, everything works out and Emma and Amanda come out on top in the end.

The story is interspersed with nonfiction segments about horses and photographs. These include instructions on saddling a horse, parts of the horse, information about gymkhanas, and more. The story ends with a spread on "Help a Horse" which is designed to look like a website. No web address is given, but it appears to be referring to "Help a Horse Day". At least, that's the closest thing a quick online search got me. There's a list of questions about the story, instructions on starting your own club, and a glossary.

Verdict: The story is clunky in places and the emphasis on Emma's special connection with her horse and the perfect ending are pure wish-fulfillment for horse-loving readers, but that's what this is all about! It's not great literature, but it will certainly capture the interest of readers who love horses and want to dream about riding or owning their own. Certain to be a popular title, this is available in both an affordable hardcover and sturdy paperback. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781465418111; Published 2014 by DK; Purchased for the library

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