Elska (Horse Diaries Series #1)

( 110 )

Overview

Iceland, circa AD 1000

Elska is a silver dapple Icelandic filly. She spends summers frisking about the countryside and winters in the farmyard, where the girl human Amma takes special care of her. But when a powerful neighbor notices Elska, her contented life suddenly changes. Here is Elska’s story . . . in her own words.

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Elska (Horse Diaries Series #1)

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Overview

Iceland, circa AD 1000

Elska is a silver dapple Icelandic filly. She spends summers frisking about the countryside and winters in the farmyard, where the girl human Amma takes special care of her. But when a powerful neighbor notices Elska, her contented life suddenly changes. Here is Elska’s story . . . in her own words.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Horse stories are always in demand. This one, the first in a series titled "Horse Diaries," is sure to be popular. Elska is an Icelandic horse whose story begins in the year 1000. It is told as if Elska were writing down the account of her life. She begins with her birth and how she joyously spent her first few months completely unaware of the existence of humans. Among other things, she learned the special gait of Icelandic horses called tolt. At the onset of fall, Elska encounters other horses and humans who bring the herd from the mountains to the settlement where they will spend the long, cold winter. Here she bonds with a young girl named Amma. The cycle continues for a little more than three years until her father gives Elska to a neighbor called Alfaldr. Eventually, the two are reunited after Elska rescues Amma from a fast-moving river. Elegantly expressive black and white illustrations are an added bonus. An informative appendix supplies information about Icelandic horses and Iceland. Purchase is definitely recommended. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
Kirkus Reviews
Ever since that danged Lassie rescued Timmie from the well, readers have had to suffer foolish plots like this one. Hapka's first in the Horse Diaries series follows the well-worn path of other small-format jacketless hardcovers-the Dear America series and the like-only with four feet instead of two. The filly Elska, raised in Iceland 1,000 years ago, forms a bond with a young human girl, Amma. The rugged, historical lifestyle is well-depicted, and the horse's viewpoint, though sentimentalized, is decently expressed. Sanderson's charcoal illustrations add some life to the slender story and help readers understand the unfamiliar setting. But of course Amma falls into danger, and of course Elska rescues her-alone, without human intervention, because of her love for Amma. Certain children will love it, but thinking adults should be repelled by this maudlin and wholly baseless climax. Horses are prey animals. They run from danger. They do not jump into rivers, not even if they are the "bridges of Iceland." Probably harmless, definitely silly. (Fantasy. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375847325
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/24/2009
  • Series: Horse Diaries Series , #1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 137,256
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Hapka has written more than 150 books for children and young adults—many about horses, including several in the Saddle Club and Pine Hollow series. A lifelong horse lover, she rides several times per week and appreciates horses of all breeds. She lives on a small farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Ruth Sanderson has illustrated books for children of all ages, including Summer Pony and Winter Pony. She lives with her family in Ware, Massachusetts, and her favorite hobby is horseback riding.

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Read an Excerpt

Iceland, Circa AD 1000

My name is Elska. That is what the people call me, though in the first months of my life I knew nothing of people.
I was foaled in early summer, in a meadow dotted with flowers. My first memory was the feeling of the warm sun on my back. I did not know it then, but in summer in Iceland, the sun shines for more than twenty hours each day. My dam, Silfra, was on her feet within moments of my birth. She nudged at me with her soft muzzle. The scent of her surrounded me and made me feel safe.
My long legs twitched. They felt new and strange. I moved them, trying to figure out how they worked. Finally I got my two front legs out in front and my back legs under me. I gave a push and staggered to my feet.
I swayed back and forth and almost fell. Then I found my balance. I stood on my shaky legs. My brushy tail swished behind me, and my ears twitched at the sounds of my brand-new world. I opened my eyes wide, trying to understand the things I saw. Interesting smells drifted past my nostrils.
My dam nudged me again with her nose, almost tipping me over. I realized I was hungry. I searched along her body until I found the right spot. Then I nursed, the warm milk filling my belly.
Soon I was full, which made me very sleepy. I allowed my new legs to collapse under me, and was asleep almost before I hit the ground.
When I awoke, I stood and nursed again. Energy coursed through my body, and I turned away from my dam. I noticed other creatures nearby–horses like me.
Curious, I tried to run to them. But my long legs tangled with each other and I went sprawling face-first on the ground.
My dam was amused. Patience, little one, she told me. Soon you will be running like the wind.
Wise Silfra was right. Within hours I was running and playing as if I had been doing so forever. The others welcomed me to the herd.
I met Bergelmir, the herd stallion and my sire. I also met an older filly known as Leira; her patient old dam, Irpa; a sweet filly the humans would call Tyrta, who was only a few days older than I was; and a playful colt with a colorful pinto coat who would be called Tappi.
It was Tappi who first showed me how to tölt. I already knew how to trot and gallop. I could walk, too, though I did it as little as possible–it was too slow when there was so much to do and see! When I first noticed Tappi, he was moving in a different way. His legs flashed beneath him, one-two-threefour, while his head and back stayed straight and proud.
I galloped after him, curious. Why do your legs move like that? I wanted to know.
He lifted his knees higher, showing off as he tölted around me. All the horses of this land can do it, he told me. It is called a tölt, and it is what makes us special among all the animals.
How do you know so much about it? I wanted to know. You aren’t much older than me.
My mother, Perta, told me, Tappi said. She is the oldest mare in the herd. She knows everything!
I watched his legs carefully. Then I tried to make my own move in the same way. After a few tries, I got it. I was tölting! Before long it felt as easy as breathing. My hind legs stretched under my body, one at a time, pushing me forward. My front legs lifted and curled, helping to propel me along. Onetwo- three-four, one-two-three-four, faster and faster. Tölting was fun!
A few days after my foaling, the rest of the herd left my birth meadow. I kept pace easily, sometimes walking or trotting and sometimes tölting with Tappi. We forded a fast, cold, shallow river that tumbled down from the mountains in a series of waterfalls. Then we climbed a steep, mossy hill and found ourselves overlooking a green valley. A herd of smaller creatures dotted the slopes of the valley and nibbled at the grass. They were white, gray, black, and brown–almost as many colors as there were in my herd. My mother told me that such creatures were known as sheep.
They share our summer grazing lands, she told me. In autumn, the men come and round them up, along with us.
I didn’t understand all of what she told me. Summer, autumn, and men meant nothing to me. But I didn’t let it worry me. Like the way my legs worked, I figured these things would become clear in time.
The herd continued through the valley of the sheep. On the far side, we found ourselves in the shadow of a mountain. Its iron-gray slopes stretched up toward the blue sky. Near the top, veins of silvery white trickled down, like the strands of my friend Tyrta’s creamy mane and tail against the dark golden palomino color of her body.
The wise old mare Irpa saw me looking. That is ice and snow, little one, she told me. You will learn more of that soon enough.
I wanted to know more now, but the herd was on the move again. We traveled through more valleys, across high meadows and lava fields, past hot springs and geysers, and over rocky foothills coated with moss. By late evening, when the sun set for the first time in many hours, we reached a broad, grassy plain with a river running through it. Most of the horses waded into the river, drinking deeply. I nursed from my mother, then collapsed onto the soft ground and slept.
That was the first of many journeys I made with the herd. We moved around often in search of grazing. Several months passed and I grew bigger, faster, and stronger. I drank less of my dam’s milk and nibbled more grass with the older horses. I grew taller and stouter, and a layer of fat covered my ribs.
Then one day in early autumn, something different happened. Tappi was the first to notice.
New horses! He came running toward the herd, breathless. Come and see!
Before we could move, horses crested the next hill. But what was that upon their backs?
Ah, it is Hamur! My dam, Silfra, snorted with pleasure. Her ears were pricked forward and her gaze trained on a particular roan horse. See how big he has grown since winter!
All around me, the other adult horses were expressing similar things. The other foals were just as confused as I was. What was happening?
Still, watching the reaction of my elders, I knew it could be nothing frightening. The horses came closer, and I got a better look at the odd creatures that rode upon their backs. They sat upright like a bird does, or an arctic fox when it stands on its hind legs to scan the fields. But these creatures were much larger than a fox. They also made strange noises as they came, sharper than the soft snorts and nickers of a horse and louder than the calls of most birds. I cocked my head to listen to these cries.
One was tall with a loud voice: “Watch, Amma! You must stay close to us, or you will not be allowed on the rettir again until you are older.”
A smaller one responded, “But I am old enough, Jarl! I am nearly eight.”
Yet another’s voice was like the low rumble of a geyser: “Your brother speaks the truth, Amma. Keep your horse near mine.”
“Yes, Father. Ooh! Look at the pretty silver dapple filly over there.”
I was trying to puzzle out what the sounds might mean. Then I noticed that the smallest of the odd new creatures was staring straight at me. I took a step closer, curious.
Come, little one. Silfra walked toward me, moving her head to show me which way she wanted me to go. We are meant to go with
the humans now.
Sure enough, the herd was already drifting ahead of the newcomers toward the nearest mountain pass. Silfra’s body blocked my view for a moment. But when I turned my head to look behind me, the small creature–a human, my dam had called it–was still gazing after me.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 110 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(83)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 110 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Joan Stradling for TeensReadToo.com

    ELSKA is a horse story like no other. Mainly because this story comes straight from the horse's mouth. That's right; Hapka lets Elska tell her own story.

    The book begins with Elska's birth and follows her as she grows and learns the way of an Icelandic mare. Jump into this book and follow this magnificent horse through training, growing, and even a daring rescue.

    Reading ELSKA took me back to my childhood when I read horse books by Marguerite Henry. I have to say, I enjoyed Hapka's story as much today as I would have back then . . . maybe more.

    If you have a horse lover in your life, trot on out and pick up a copy of this book for them. I am passing this book on to my nine-year-old and I'm sure she'll love it.

    I look forward to future HORSE DIARIES books.

    20 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

    A great book!

    I would recomend this book for all horse and pony lovers every where. This is a story of a young pony and her owner. I will let you find out the rest because this should remain an adventure for you! Hope you like the book like I did!

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2010

    a good horse lover book!

    I read this book in 5th grade because I couldn't find a book that I settled with. I started the series and now don't won't to stop!A very good book for horse lovers! I would give it a try if you have loved horses and wanted them to tell you a story I would give this book a try!

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2011

    best friend

    i read this book over 5 times and i loved this book

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2011

    best book ever

    i've read it alot and its amazing!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2011

    Loved it!

    LOVED IT!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 26, 2010

    Its Good

    This story is great. i luv it cuz well it has a lot of adventures and thrills. BUT I would ONLY recommend it to horse-lovers.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Awesome book! Anynimous

    I think that its an awesome book avnd that every girl should toatally have a chance to read it.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Wonderful!!

    I was always curious on what happened next when i put this book down.I would recommend this book for all horse lovers,and girls who enjoy a series of related books!

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    Aprodite

    Prodite conecentrated. A huge thick moss bed was made "here sun lay down."

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Elska

    It is great!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    ACTUALLY A REVIEW

    This is NOT SOME STUPID NOT-REVIEW LIKE ONE OF THOSE FIRESTAR CLAN DUDES. If you are one of them, stop it and tell your other little buddies too. This is a very very very very very very very very very good book. I recommend it for you even if you dont like horses. Listen to me. Please.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    Kids book!

    I purchased this book because it had good reviews - and the point of view was refreshing. However, I found the book to be brief and inspecific / indescriptive. Also, it was extremely brief and I would not reccomend it for anyone over 8.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    Horse diaries:Elska

    So cool u will love it totaly.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    A some!

    I can not what tell i can read it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Awesome book

    Awesome book but i read it in like 26 minutes!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Elask

    Very good book

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2012

    Annonomyous

    It was really good, but i wish it was longer and had more details about the horses life. Otherwise, good book!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Best book

    I want this book for my nook but i know i like it beacause i read the hardcover book of this from my library

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    The series? :))

    So, I just purchased this book, and I hope I like it! I do luuv horses and, ( if you've ever heard of it, the Canterwood Crest series ) which is also about horses and their owners! Sooooo heart-pounding!!! So, if anyone has any advice for me about this book, I'd appreciate it! THANKS ~Livy <333

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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