Running with the Horses

Running with the Horses

by Alison Lester
     
 

Nina and her father live in a beautiful riding school famous for their Lippizaners—precious, rare performing horses.  Nina loves the horses that her father looks after, but she also loves Zelda, one of the old carriage horses who she sneaks out to see.  It's a perfect world for a little girl, although she has to compete with her father's work

Overview

Nina and her father live in a beautiful riding school famous for their Lippizaners—precious, rare performing horses.  Nina loves the horses that her father looks after, but she also loves Zelda, one of the old carriage horses who she sneaks out to see.  It's a perfect world for a little girl, although she has to compete with her father's work for his attention.  But a war is coming, one that will threaten their lives and the very existence of the school. 

When the city is under attack, Nina and Father are in charge of fleeing with the horses to a safe place across the border, but can they pass enemy soldiers, bombed out bridges and the fearsome cold of the Alps to get there?  And can Nina save her beloved Zelda, too?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lester (the Horse Crazy series) uses Vienna's famous Royal Academy of Dancing Horses as a background for a picture book drama that has the sweep of a novel. It's wartime, and troops are approaching. Stable master Viktor takes his daughter, Nina, into the mountains with four valuable stallions, as well as the groom, Karl, and the story's hero—Zelda, a broken-down cab horse Nina rescues at the last minute. Despite her lowly pedigree and rackety condition, Zelda saves the company—twice—from disaster, first leading them through the war-torn city, then keeping them from crossing an unsafe bridge. "She struck out with her forelegs, driving the stallions back off the bridge.... The middle of the bridge had been completely blown away, and a yawning hole gaped above the ravine." Lester draws humans and horses as doll-like figures in b&w, then places them against luxuriously colored, theatrically scaled backdrops, giving the illustrations the curious feel of a puppet performance. Lester's characters are strongly developed, and there's backstory and detail to spare (despite the journalistic tone, a note at the end explains that the episode is fiction). Ages 5–up. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
During World War II, with fighting getting closer to the city, young Nina and her father must flee and take with them the handsome Lipizzaner horses of the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses. Little Nina refuses to abandon the old cab horse named Zelda. Clinging tightly to the old horse's mane Nina, her father, and his friend Karl make their escape. The journey is difficult and on dark night it is Zelda who warns the trio of impending danger as they move across a bridge that has been partially blown away. In frigid weather as Zelda falls weak and weary, Nina refuses to leave her behind. Her faith and love for the old horse is enough to spur the exhausted mare onward until they reach the safety of Nina's grandmother's mountain cottage. It is emphasized that this is work of fiction but it reads like a real life adventure. There is plenty of drama and suspense in the warm tale of loyalty and courage. The outstanding illustrations feature photographs in the background with the foreground illustrations rendered in black and white and colored pencil. This is a real tour de force that begs to be shared aloud as well as a one-on-one share or for solitary reading. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Inspired by the dramatic rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during World War II, this fictional story focuses on the 10-year-old daughter of the stable master at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses in a "graceful old city." When war shutters the school and closes down the city, Nina and her father must escape with the last four stallions. Nina insists upon taking Zelda, an abandoned cab horse, a move that proves fortuitous when the canny old horse stops the party from plunging into a ravine from a broken bridge. Nina repays the horse'ss loyalty when Zelda drops from exhaustion in a snowstorm, and Nina refuses to leave her. At last, they reach her grandparents' house in the mountains. Lester's deceptively simple illustrations pair boldly colorful landscapes with black-and-white sketches of the characters in the foreground. Young horse lovers will thrill to this moving tale of loyalty and bravery.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
Kirkus Reviews
Aussie Lester crafts a believable wartime adventure loosely based on the World War II rescue of the Lipizzaner stallions of Vienna's Spanish Riding School.Ten-year-old Nina's father is stable master at an acclaimed royal academy in an unnamedcity (clearly Vienna in the illustrations).When war closes the Academy, the horses are taken away by truck—but as Nina's father waits with the last of them the battle reaches the city, and they must flee on the horses themselves. Nina insists on bringing an elderly cart horse, Zelda, whose cleverness saves the party but whose strength begins to failas they climb into the mountains.Both girl and horse feel fully credible and their escape surprisingly affecting.The illustrations, predominately black-and-white drawings layeredbetween photographic and colored-pencil back- and foregrounds,make the historical contemporary; theyground thecharacters without tying them to a specific time.An author's note gives historical background and points out that this story is entirely fiction.The text of this adventure is on the long side, gearing it for an older elementary audience. Very well done indeed.(Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780735840027
Publisher:
North-South Books, Inc.
Publication date:
02/01/2011
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
11.70(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Alison Lester is one of the most popular and best-selling writers and illustrators of children's books in Australia, and has won many awards there.  Her career spans over 21 years and includes the Clive Eats Alligators series, The Quicksand Pony, and Are We There Yet? which one the Australian CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2005.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >