Friday, July 17, 2009

The Truth about Horses, Friends, & My Life as a Coward

The Truth about Horses, Friends, & My Life as a Coward by Sarah P. Gibson, illustrations by Glin Dibley, Marshall Cavendish, 2008 -- publisher supplied review copy

This is the kind of book I want to link arms with and go walk around the mall with while we text people we know.

Sophie's family owns three horses. Sophie does not like horses. Sophie fears horses (with good reason) yet cannot escape them.

They do not know much about horses when they begin -- inadvertently -- to collect them. Her mother and sister are romantics but Sophie has learned the hard way that horses are dangerous. A loner, she is reluctant to use the the animals as "friend bait." In fact, she uses them as a wedge against the disappointment that would-be-friends are only interested in her because of her horses. Sophie is wary of people and the horses.

Horse lovers should appreciate this realistic look at what it is like to have horses in your life. This is not King of the Wind. There is no "Marguerite Henry" glow to these equines. These horses have matted manes and hang out near manure piles. Really is a (really) mean pony who bites everyone, Sweetheart is a swayback Arabian who craftily sheds her riders against tree branches and Fancy Free is a horse-and-a-half in size but missing some major horse sense. Each horse has a lesson to teach Sophie though.

As a mother and a teacher, I've seen it. Second semester, fourth grade, the hormones kick in and the social re-ordering begins. Friendships are broken and new alliances are formed when small groups at recess morph into cliques that are open to some while others are excluded. Just finding a group to sit with at lunch time is an emotionally charged experience in junior high. Sophie has lived this which is why her comment, "I never had a best friend until Melissa Maloney moved in up the street " hits with poignancy and hope. Readers from grades 4-8 will identify.

While all that sounds very serious, Gibson's humor is very sly, very clever, very witty and causes so many audible chuckles, snorts and guffaws that family members will look at you expectantly as you read, hoping you will share. The story unfolds in a series of vignettes with titles like, "How Not to Buy a Pony or Danger in a Small Package."

I love this book.
I think it is time to cruise by the pretzel place now and then we'll go check out the earrings at The Icing and Claire's.


anne said...

Sounds like an awesome book, am ordering it for the library! we have so many kids who are "into" horses, and also lots of kids who actually HAVE horses in our small community, this sounds like a hit for sure!

loved your idea about linking arms w/the book and hanging at the mall...completely understand it, but would have been at a loss to put it into words so perfectly!

Danial said...

I like this book very much