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Chancey of the Maury River

Chancey of the Maury River

4.4 14
by Gigi Amateau

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On the night that Chancey is born, a "fire star" gallops across the sky, a signal that a great horse has entered the world. But it will take many years of slights and hardships before the orphaned albino will believe that the prophecy is truly meant for him. First he must find a home at the Maury River Stables and a girl named Claire who needs him as much as he needs


On the night that Chancey is born, a "fire star" gallops across the sky, a signal that a great horse has entered the world. But it will take many years of slights and hardships before the orphaned albino will believe that the prophecy is truly meant for him. First he must find a home at the Maury River Stables and a girl named Claire who needs him as much as he needs her. Then, when his aching joints and impending blindness bring an end to their training together, he must start a new chapter as a therapeutic horse, healing people with wounds both visible and unseen. In the manner of a latter-day Black Beauty, Chancey's observant voice narrates this absorbing story, filled with fascinating details of life at the stable and keen insight into equine instinct, human emotion, and the ineffable bond that connects them both.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Isaacs
An aging, ailing horse finds a new life at the Maury River Stables where he helps a child recover from the hurt of divorce and goes on to help many children in the Therapeutic Riding School, before his cancer renders him totally blind. Having been left to forage on his own for a full winter, Chancey is in poor shape when he arrives at the stables, thin and scratched, with a matted coat and heavy heart. Ten-year-old Claire hurts, too, from her parents' recent divorce, but she falls in love with the albino Appaloosa and nurses him back to sufficient health to begin to carry a rider again. Their bond provides emotional healing to both. Although Chancey has cancer in his eyes and cannot see well enough to jump, he is brave and unflappable, an ideal mount for children with special needs including angry Trevor, a boy whose own cancer finally wins. Chancey tells his story in a formal first-person voice that distances him from the reader, a problem for a book designed to tug at the heart-strings of lovers of horse stories and death-and-dying accounts. But the intended audience will probably overlook the stilted language to focus on the wealth of detail about stable life, horse care, jumping meets and trail rides that those who ride, in real life or in their imagination, will enjoy. Reviewer: Kathleen Isaacs
VOYA - Sophie Brookover
Chancey, an albino Appaloosa, nearly starves to death after being abandoned by his suddenly bankrupt owner, Monique, after twenty-odd years of service, but he ultimately finds a home at the Maury River Stables in Virginia's Blue Mountains in this unabashedly sentimental and surprisingly moving horse novel. At Maury River, Chancey is paired with eleven-year-old Claire, a gifted rider whose parents are divorcing acrimoniously, and who, like Chancey, must follow stable owner Mrs. Maiden's advice to "let love in" to her heart again. Girl and horse heal each other's wounds and embark on a lifelong friendship. Chancey is soon diagnosed with eye cancer, and although he undergoes many operations, his waning sight triggers another change in career, from show horse to therapeutic service horse. Here Chancey finds his true calling, helping the wounded and the sick let love into their lives, too. Should this plot line sound gag-inducingly saccharine, Amateau holds it together by investing Chancey with an irresistibly courtly, Southern equine voice. Although a horse book might come as a surprise follow-up to Claiming Georgia Tate (Candlewick, 2006/VOYA June 2005), this novel is just as earnest, heartfelt, and uplifting as Amateau's debut. Readers feeling outcast by their peers will find a sympathetic companion in Chancey, whose albinism makes him an outsider among his fellow horses. The overall wholesomeness and well-earned positive outlook makes this title worthy of consideration in communities where horse books and clean reads are popular or needed. Reviewer: Sophie Brookover
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8- On the night that Chancey is born, a comet streaks across the sky, a sign that a horse of great beauty and wisdom has been born. However, it seems unlikely that the Appaloosa will fulfill this prophecy. He is albino and his lack of pigmentation is not only considered unattractive, but also leads to serious health problems. He works as a school horse for many years, teaching children how to ride, but when his owner has a financial crisis, Chancey is left in a field and neglected for months, before finding a new life at Mrs. Maiden's Maury River Stables. In his old age, Chancey learns to love and trust again as he bonds with his new rider, Claire, a girl who has also suffered loss. When his deteriorating eyesight makes it impossible for him to jump in competition, he embarks on a new career as a therapy horse. He and Claire meet a young boy who has terminal cancer, and they work together to give Trevor the experience of being a champion. Narrated by Chancey, the novel has many details about equine behavior and horsemanship that lend authenticity, although there are a few awkward moments when these descriptions interrupt the flow of the narrative. However, the story is compelling, and the chapters about Chancey's work as a therapy horse are particularly moving, especially the one relating the culmination of his work with Trevor. A highly enjoyable read.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
There's a reason Black Beauty has been abridged so many times: The language of the original is old-fashioned, stilted and frankly boring. Chancey, who often seems to be channeling his old mentor Beauty, suffers from the same problem, though happily his story is serviceable. Once past the confusing beginning, in which Chancey, destined for greatness, is abandoned in a field, the story finds not one heart but several: Claire, a sad and lonely child; her understanding mother; Trevor, a child dying of cancer; and finally Chancey himself, who learns his purpose in the world while gradually succumbing to blindness. The antiquated cadences of Chancey's voice, which offers such jarring sentences as, "Drawing upon my Appaloosa genetics, I calmly accepted the discomfort, for I knew that no one around me wished me any harm," confers in the end a kind of touching dignity to the story. The question is whether readers will make it that far. (Fiction. 10-14)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
Meet Chancey, a twenty-something albino Appaloosa. We are first introduced to him as he reflects on his life wondering if his mothers' prayers and wishes would ever come to fruition. You see, great expectations were thrust on Chancey—born to stunning parents, with the hopes of becoming a champion with his parent's striking colorations. Instead, he was born void of pigment, and merely tolerated by the herd only because of his mother's greatness. Chancey's life is one of uncertainty now that his riding stable and the other horses have to be sold. Chancey was the only one left, not because of emotional attachment, but because no one wanted him. Not wanting him to be left in the hands of strangers, Chancey's owner begs another stable to take him, until she could make other arrangements. What seems like the end of the line for Chancey is really a blessing in disguise, and his gift of a second chance. The book is full of second chances, and not just for Chancey. Next to get another chance is Claire, whose parents just got divorced and has developed a stutter in her speech. Realizing his potential as a therapy horse, Mrs. Maiden wisely places her new charge in a class for "therapeutic students." Chancey accepts and tolerates each one, though Claire will always hold a special place in his heart. Trevor also is given a second chance. Stricken with cancer and feeling overwhelmed by the disease, Trevor wants nothing to do with a horse, or a structured lifestyle. During one self depreciating moment Claire lashes out at him, and tells Trevor that Chancey also has cancer. This exchange makes all the difference for Trevor, who decides he will fight and hopes to win a championship with Chancey one day. A sight set too high, you may wonder, but the bonding among all the characters is described and played out so well you would consider such a thought foolish. Claire can come across as bossy and spoiled at times but girls (let's face it—no boy would be caught reading this work unless it involved a great reward, or they lost a bet!) who read this will allow her to be so for a brief while! Told in ?first-horse' narrative, Amateau brings the world of horse stables and competitions to a level everyone can comprehend—yet will resonate favorably with those already schooled in all things equine. A nice escape, with hardly a dull moment. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young

Product Details

Candlewick Press
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Read an Excerpt


Tonight, the moon was high and full; it cast a light so pure that all fell quiet and still under its watch. Even I felt its pull.

A fire star raced across the winter sky, causing quite a stir among us. The younger ones were afraid and ran to their mothers. I no longer feared the wild streak, as I had in my youth. Instead I dropped my head and gave thanks for a long and good life lived here by the Maury River and in these blue mountains. I gave thanks, too, for the friends who have stood beside me through these many years.

When I was still a colt, I once saw a fire star with such a fury that it scared me greatly. I thought it was coming straight for me. I raced to the corner of our field and, unable to find my dam, became filled with an anxiety so invasive that I began to breathe too fast and thus found no breath at all. But I was in no danger. My dam came to me. She wrapped me in her neck, and I was no longer afraid.

My dam explained that when a horse of great beauty or wisdom enters the world, a star chosen especially for that horse lights across the night sky, announcing the new arrival. Dam told me that we should not fear the fire stars; instead we should drop our heads and say a word of thanks for life's many blessings. Dam allowed that occasionally the blaze is so bright and so near that it is frightening, as most things are if you don't understand them. She encouraged me then, and on many such occasions, to seek understanding in all things. I have remembered this for my whole life and only rarely do I feel afraid. When I do, I try to remember Dam's words, then find my breath, and examine that which frightens me.

After that night, I sought out fire stars in the sky. Most nights, I did not see any at all. Sometimes, in the late summer, it seemed that the night held so many that I quickly lost track and would fall asleep watching them, still standing in the field.

"Was there a fire star on the night I was born?" I often asked Dam.

Each time I asked, she would pull me in to her and recount the story of my birth.

"Oh, yes, Chancey. On your night, a star raced across the sky with such brilliance that all present knew you would grow beautiful, wise, and great. Something very special is planned for you."

For years, I believed her; I held tight to Dam's faith that I would become a great horse.

My owner, too, had grand hopes of me. She had planned that I would become a champion, and a beautiful one at that. She bred my dam, a fancy snowflake Appaloosa, to an identical stallion, certain that I would turn out the same, black as night with white snowflakes like Dam's blanketing my hind. Dam's markings were so vibrant that at her own birth she was given the name Starry Night, not for the sky under which she was born but for the way in which she was adorned with a midnight quilt of icy diamonds.

Yet I am very nearly the inverse of my stunning parents. I was born without pigment. Black stripes cut through the middle of all four of my hooves, the one physical characteristic I possess which proves to all that I am a true Appaloosa. Despite my lack of pigmentation, I believed my dam. I believed greatness awaited me.

Here now, in my old age, I comprehend what I could not before comprehend. I understand now that mothers are apt to wish on stars; every mother prays to heaven on behalf of her child. Sometimes, it seems that a mother's prayers for her child will never be answered at all. Yet is it not possible that one day, when that child is very, very old, he might see that his mother's prayers have been perfectly, beautifully answered all along?

CHAPTER TWO- Horse for Sale

That I had never been sold away was a blessing of immeasurable comfort. I had lived my entire life as a school horse here in this valley. Friends had come and gone, yet my comforts remained constant: the Blue
Ridge Mountains, the Allegheny Mountains, and the Maury River all surrounding me. These mountains, all blue to me, were home.

I was grateful, too, that I had lived a life of service under the care of a decent-enough owner. I had seen cruel hands on others enough that I was deeply aware of my privileges. Though throughout much of my life I
longed for something more—the greatness, perhaps, that my dam foresaw—I was content to have been treated fairly. My fortune changed, however, when my owner's fortune changed overnight.

The day before had ended the same as most days. We were led to our rooms, given our grain, and the barn was closed up for the evening. But the next morning, no one came to feed us. By the time the sun had moved high into the sky, we all were hungry and panicked. We kicked our doors until finally some of the students arrived to feed us and turn us out.

Monique, the proprietor of the stable and my owner, did not show. That was the first day since my birth that I had not seen her. Though I did not love Monique, I depended on her.

The students who came in her place spoke in hushed tones and whispered of the terrible and sudden death of Monique's husband. These whispers also spoke of a debt incurred by the dead man, a debt so enormous that it might force Monique out of her fine brick home and off of several hundred mountainous acres. In the second it took her husband to release his final breath, Monique had been stripped of her status as a wealthy and privileged landowner. There was no recourse left for Monique but to sell everything, including us horses, so that she could return to her native land, a country so far away that she planned never to return to the blue mountains.


CHANCEY OF THE MAURY RIVER by Gigi Amateau. Copyright © 2008 by Gigi Amateau. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Somerville, MA.

Meet the Author

Gigi Amateau is the author of the young-adult novel CLAIMING GEORGIA TATE. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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Chancey of the Maury River 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give this book five stars.Its the best horse book Ive ever read.it comes from the horses point of view.At first its kind of hard to undersand but its still awesome.I absolutely loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was good, it was like black beauty but yet...unlike. its more absorbing than black beauty, definitely. anyone who LOVES horses should read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ambersprit noticed Tiger shaking, and bounded off with a quick, "Wait here." She swiftly caught a rabbit and brought it back for him. "Eat this." She settled down next to him. "HorseClan is a group of cats that live together, and take care of each other. We have a leader, and a medicine cat. We hunt, we train, and sometimes we fight with other clans." Amberspirit showed him a scar on her muzzle. "But it's worth it. You always have someone looking out for you."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cloudripple jumped at Stormfeather's voice, startled. "Oh." Her voice was quiet, heavy with grief. "I didn't realize you were here." A tear trickled down her face and into the stream.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard read for young readers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I completly loved it!I'll never read a better book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sat waiting patienly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was really a cute book!! My 9 year old niece was visiting and we read it together. We both truly enjoyed it. The story being told from the horses perspective was great!
BEBC More than 1 year ago
Even if you are not a real horse lover, you will still love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a while ago and REALLY liked it! It is heartwarming and great for horselovers!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is written as though the horse is telling the story, yet is very realistic and easy to put yourself in his shoes/hooves. You can tell that the author rides and knows horses, yet even readers who don't know horses in-depth can easily keep up. My only question is that I have never heard of an albino appaloosa...the descriptions of it sound like a few-spot appaloosa to me. Either way, the book talks about judge preferences and prejudices against fewspots/white horses when showing...this is true in the real world. This book is very appropriate for the age group recommended, but is still an enjoyable read for adults. Overall, I am glad I purchased this book and will probably read it again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Cloudripple." He gently brushed his tail over his Clan-Mate's back, his ears tipped back.