Rave Reviews Log: Animal Stories

November 30, 2009

The Georges and the Jewels

By Jane Smiley
Animal: Horses
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

Set in 1960's California, seventh grader Abby has been riding horses forever, but she never gets to keep one. Her father buys and sells horses for a living, and each gelding is named George and each mare is called Jewel so that no one gets attached to the horses. Now that her rebellious older brother has left the house, her father advertises the horses with "even a little girl can ride him." But this year, Abby is feeling the strict life her parents have her leading is just a little too small. She begins by defying her father and refusing to ride the horse she privately calls Ornery George because he bucks every time she gets on him. Then when one of the mares drops a colt, Abby insists on calling him "Jack" instead of George. Things are no easier at school, where her friend Gloria makes new friends with a girl named Stella, who seems to have a mean streak. But then a couple of trainers enter her life and start showing Abby there are different ways to do things than what her father does...maybe even better ways. Can Abby learn to balance her life at last and come out happy on the other side? Horse lovers will be thrilled with the detailed horse talk in this story and will come away with hope that Abby will have a happier future

Emmaline and the Bunny

By Katherine Hannigan
Rating: 4 stars

In this charming story, Emmaline wants nothing more than to have a bunny that will scoot-skedaddle, hop hop hop, and dig in the dirt with her. But unfortunately for Emmaline, she lives in the town of Neatasapin, where concrete is everywhere, weeds are not allowed, and everything needs to be quiet and tidy. Then one day, Emmaline hears of an Untidy place and when she journeys there she meets the bunny of her dreams. But how can she turn Neatasapin into the kind of safe, untidy, inviting place a wild bunny will come to live in? Readers will be drawn into this quick, fun story, where a lonely girl's determination to find her No More Only leads to a brighter world for everyone.