Rave Reviews Log: Animal Stories

July 16, 2007

Heart of Fire

By Victoria Holmes
Animal: Horse
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

The year is 1923 and Maddie is 15 and living at Sefton Park with her grandparents and older sister. Her parents had died in the influenza epidemic and her brother Theo had gone on to live in Namibia after the Great War. Maddie desperately misses her parents and brother, fears her sister will leave to get married, and despairs of ever learning to ride properly. Then one day, her brother returns with a golden chestnut mare at this heels. Her family is so overjoyed to see Theo again, everyone becomes happier. Everyone except Theo, who remains somewhat aloof and refuses to talk of what happened to him in the war and in Africa. Maddie is frustrated with this brother who seems more like a stranger until he urges her to befriend and learn to ride his mare, which Maddie names Firebird. But as Maddie falls in love with Firebird and with riding and slowly gets to know Theo again, she realizes that something isn't quite right. Then one day, another man shows up at Sefton Park, claiming he is Theo Harman. Who is the real Theo? And will this mean the end of Firebird's stay at Sefton Park? This is an involving tale of horses, history, and love for your family, even when that doesn't always mean they are your own flesh and blood. Lovers of horses and historical fiction will find much to like in this novel.

July 06, 2007

Jack and Rebel, the Police Dog

By Patricia Finney
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Told from Jack's very doggy point of view, this is a sequel to the very funny I, Jack. Jack, the big, overweight yellow Labrador, is again getting into trouble yet somehow managing to save the day at the same time. Jack's troubles begin when he manages to turn off the emergency brake on the car and crashes it. While still trapped in the car, he gets to meet his friend Rebel, who is now a police dog, when he comes along with his police officer to the scene of the crash. Jack's PackLeader and PackLady need to be in London the next day, so they bring over Aunt Zoo, a relative, to watch the kids and animals while they are away. Although some scenes may be a bit confusing for the reader to figure out what is going on (Jack's confused, too!), it all makes sense by the end. During her stay, Jack manages to foil a gang of robbers, save a forest, and eat more food than could ever be good for a dog. Rebel features in some of the adventures, as well as Jack's pack of "apepuppies." This is another quick and fun read about a rather less than bright but good-hearted dog.