by Mary Finn


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A lyrical coming-of-age story about a boy, a girl, and a horse — and how a chance encounter can lead to a life of intrigue and learning, a life beyond imagining. 

When Thomas Rose first spots the girl hidden by the roadside, she looks as drab as a lark, with only her red kerchief giving her away. But French Hélène, who goes by "Ling," is no ordinary bird. Tiny Ling enchants Thomas with her wild spirit and tales of a circus where she danced atop her beloved horse, Belladonna. But the horse has been sold, and Ling must fetch her back. Now Thomas’s life as a clever but unschooled wheelwright’s son is about to change. Their search leads to painter George Stubbs, who euthanizes ailing animals in order to study their anatomy. Stubbs draws eerie horses that stride as if they could move out of the paper world into the real one — but he assures his young friends that their horse is safe at a nearby estate. As Ling and Thomas devise a risky plan to recover Belladonna, Stubbs hires Thomas as an apprentice, teaching him to read and write as well. In this fascinating story, Mary Finn incorporates a real eighteenth-century artist into a beautifully imagined tale of adventure and young romance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763651060
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 06/14/2011
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 12 - 11 Years

About the Author

Mary Finn is the author of Anila’s Journey, winner of a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and the Ellis Dillon Award for a first book in her native Ireland. About Belladonna, she says, “I fell in love with George Stubbs’s precise yet ghostly anatomical studies of the horse. It was unlikely territory for a novel until Ling appeared, crying out for help.” Mary Finn lives in Dublin, Ireland.

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Belladonna 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enchanting. Loved it. Will look for more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book it's just not easy at first. If your'e looking for a good book though I think this is perfect. I hope anyone who reads it will be suprised. Like me you first might think it won't be good but then your'e in for a suprise!
ChelseaW More than 1 year ago
Fifteen-year-old Thomas Rose has already come to grips with the fact that his life is on the verge of change, but when he meets a girl named Ling, he know for sure that things will never be the same again. She is searching for a white horse named Belladonna, the same equine she used to dance atop at the circus. When Belladonna was sold, Ling swore she would never dance again until she found her. With Thomas' help, they just might be able to do that. As well as a lot of growing up along the way, too. Belladonna is not an easy book to read, but a rather rewarding one if you do. I will tell you up front that from the cover and synopsis, I was totally expecting (and hoping!) to get a circus story. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. However, though it is not my desired circus show, this novel was very rich with the atmosphere of mid-eighteenth century life. Ling is a fabulous character, and wise beyond her years. She felt both like the girl-next-door and exotic at the same time. By comparison, Tom was bland and uninteresting. The writing is a little dry and difficult to plow through for the average YA reader, but for those who stick with it, Mary Finn delivers a delightful gem of a tale.