An engaging horse tale with a lot of heart.

Selah's Sweet Dream

A young girl wants a horse more than anything, but when she finally gets one, she gets more than she bargained for in Count’s debut middle-grade novel.

Soon after Selah arrives for the summer at her grandfather’s Texas farm, she starts pestering her grandfather for a horse, telling him how much she loves the animals and arguing, “The farm’s too quiet, Grandpa. A horse farm should be alive with horses!” She gets nowhere with that argument, but then she spots a horse running around the meadow beyond the farm. Together, Selah and her grandfather soon set out to find it again, as they believe it’s a black filly that disappeared a few years ago. Selah finds the horse, which now has injured its leg in coiled wire. By the time she and her grandfather free it, Selah is convinced that the horse was sent to her on purpose. It turns out to be the last foal of Harmony, Selah’s grandmother Mary’s horse. Mary, who died when Selah was 4, rode in dressage competitions. Selah’s grandfather gave Harmony to a family friend, who now insists that Selah keep the horse’s descendant. But the animal, named Mary’s Dream Song, is difficult, defiant, and very hard to train. Selah’s grandfather’s old friend invites the girl to train the horse at his facility, and it’s up to her to convince everyone to stick with Dream. Count’s debut is an engaging read. The author clearly knows her horses, as the story includes plenty of details, including specific training methods: “If the trainer is standing tall, leaning in, and looking intently at the horse, then it knows it’s being told to move its feet.” The story also has plenty of suspenseful passages to keep readers engaged. Although Selah’s relationship with the horse is a key part of the story, her relationship with her grandfather is even more important as they deal with their grief over Selah’s grandmother’s death and figure out how to keep Dream in their lives.

An engaging horse tale with a lot of heart.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9970883-0-4

Page Count: 196

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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