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


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