This lighthearted early chapter book, which launches the Horse Crazy series, is set in Lester's (Are We There Yet?) and Harvey's (In the City: Our Scrapbook of Souvenirs) native Australia. Horse-loving best friends Bonnie and Sam detect a change in Drover, the mare that Sam's father rides on his police rounds. Longing to run free, Drover, it turns out, has swapped places with an identical brumby (wild horse) that prefers the safety of the paddock ("Both horses saw the life they wanted, with only the fence in their way"). After the girls secretly break in the "new Drover" to prepare her for her job, the horse takes some humorous missteps-following a baker into his shop-before finally getting a chance to save the day. Harvey's ink and watercolor pictures cheerily depict life in the bush and capture the personalities of the heroines and their equine friends. Off to a snappy start, the series continues with The Circus Horse, also out. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Jody Little
This chapter book is the first in the "Horse Crazy" series, set in the Australian bush. Best friends Bonnie and Sam love horses They care for their family and friends' horses every day. The only horse that does not seem to like the girls is Drover, Sam's father's silver horse. Drover bucks them off when they try to ride her. She does not even like the girls to stroke her mane. One day, a herd of wild horses called brumbies runs near the ranch. One of the brumbies, a silver horse nearly identical to Drover, leaps over the fence right next to Drover. Moments later, Drover, leaps over the fence and joins the brumby herd. The next morning, the girls sense something different in Drover. She seems friendly, and she smells different too. The girls notice her cracked hooves and scars on her legs, and they realize that this is not Drover. The girls instantly fall in love with this new, friendlier Drover and decide they must find a way to hide the horse switch from Sam's father. They file down the new Drover's hooves. They comb her mane and they practice riding her with the saddle. Finally, the day arrives for Sam's father to ride Drover. The girl's are nervous, but when Sam's father mounts the new Drover, he does not seem to notice the difference. The girl's secret is safe. There are point of view changes in this book, which may confuse beginning readers, but horse lovers will enjoy the adventure. The author includes a glossary at the end of the book with Australian terms. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4–Set in a small town in the Australian bush, these books introduce best friends Bonnie and Samantha and their shared adventures and passion for horses. In Switch, a farm horse belonging to Sam’s father and a wild horse, or brumby, mysteriously switch places–and only Bon and Sam discover the truth. After Sam’s policeman father unexpectedly mounts the newly domesticated animal to gallop off and rescue a toddler from an oncoming train, Sam divulges the horse’s true identity, but he doesn’t believe her. One year later, the girls encounter the former farm horse in the bush, happily acclimated with the brumbies. In Circus Horse, Bon, having practiced some trick riding for the local talent show, secretly takes the place of an injured rider in a visiting circus. She manages to turn her near fall into a clownlike part of the act, much to the enjoyment of the unsuspecting audience. While both plots in these short chapter books require some suspension of disbelief, overall they are an engaging window into rural life Down Under and the friendship of two enviably independent girls who are knowledgeable, skilled riders. Lighthearted ink and watercolor illustrations charmingly convey the Aussie terrain and the cast of human and equine characters. However, some of the more finely detailed drawings and small-font captions could be visually challenging for some young eyes. A short glossary of unfamiliar terms is a vital addition for American readers. Additional purchases where there is strong interest in horse stories for newly fluent readers.–Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
Bonnie and Sam are best friends and horsecrazy. Luckily, they live in Currawong Creek, a small Australian bush town absolutely teeming with horses. The girls know and love each individual animal-so when Sam's father's police horse, Drover, swaps herself with an identical brumby (Australian for mustang), they notice right away. Since the girls prefer the new version of Drover, they clean her up and train her to take the old Drover's place, so well that no one believes they've done it. In the second book in the series, The Circus Horse (9780811866569), Bonnie trains a classmate's games pony to do a circus routine for the school talent show-only to be thwarted when animal acts are banned due to "last year's poo problem." When the circus comes to town, however, she's wellprepared. Lighthearted easy readers with Harvey's appealing watercolor illustrations, these books have instant charm. The horse problems are farfetched but not entirely impossible, and the horses are as vivid and complex as the deftly drawn human characters. Saddle Club, step aside. (Fiction. 710)