In her third appearance, the spunky nine-year-old chatterbox vacations with her family at a dude ranch. The eager girl loves horses; she is allowed to explore on her own and hang out with staff, but has to convince the instructor, Kansas, that she is skilled enough at riding to get out of the kiddie corral. Mary Margaret is too busy talking to listen to advice and blames the gentle horse for problems with her performance. When Kansas shows up to spend the evening with her 13-year-old brother, Mary Margaret makes a bad choice, which nearly results in disaster for her, one of the horses, and her brother's athletic career. The protagonist's preoccupations with her fancy red boots and with impressing Kansas are right on target, and there are some laugh-out-loud moments. MacLean writes with a sense of humor and tenderness that fans of Megan McDonald's Judy Moody (Candlewick) and Paula Danziger's Amber Brown (Putnam) are likely to enjoy.
Sharon R. PearceCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
What's endearing about Mary Margaret, MacLean's effervescent but obstreperous heroine, is that she knows how she's supposed to be behaving, but just can't control herself well enough to pull it off. In this, the third installment of the series, Mary Margaret travels with her family to the Lazy K dude ranch, where she's certain that she'll be an ace trail rider within days. Her match comes in the person of Kansas, a prickly young stable hand that Mary Margaret immediately takes to and wants to befriend. But although Mary Margaret pulls out all the stops, her efforts backfire, so much so that it seems like Kansas hates her. Nor is Mary Margaret able to control Terco, her assigned mount, well enough to be allowed out of the kiddie corral. It's a frustrating situation MacLean milks it for all it's worth, generating laughs, suspense, poignancy and a pointed life lesson as Mary Margaret's patience is stretched to the snapping point. A delightful ride and one that is sure to make young cowgirls cheer. (Fiction. 7-11)