Tuesday 11 March 2014

The Saddle Club: Horse Sense/Horse Power

The Saddle Club: Book 2: Horse Sense/Horse Power by Bonnie Bryant (Random House Australia Children’s)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 9780857980649
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Book 2: Horse Sense/Horse Power continues the stories of the three main characters of The Saddle Club: Carole, Stevie and Lisa. Once again there are two stories per book, so that sense of loss that you feel when you finish a story turns to joy when you have another fully formed tale to read at the flick of a page.

In Horse Sense, each girl has a mission at Pine Hollow Stables. Carole’s is to be at the birth of a foal, Stevie’s is to plan the games for the gymkhana and Lisa has to work out the rules for The Saddle Club.

As usual, the delightful, sensory descriptions of riding and jumping lessons position the reader in the saddle.

There is trouble ahead for The Saddle Club members when a new French girl, Estelle, joins. It takes a while for Carole, Stevie and Lisa to find out that Estelle is the ‘ultimate pretender.’

Meanwhile, the mare Delilah goes into labour. It’s a challenging situation as the three girls are alone at Pine Hollow Stables. Through combining their skills of nurturing, creativity and organisation they rise to the challenge and help the foal to be born.

To buffer the stories, there’s a great article on the logistics of transporting horses to the Olympics. It’s a compelling package of fact and fiction.

In the second story Horse Power, the gymkhana gets underway as Carole, Stevie and Lisa work to create the best horse-riding games. Two new characters are introduced. One is Stevie’s brother Chad, who takes riding lessons to be near Stevie’s best friend Lisa, his latest crush. Will their first date be a dream or disaster? In the layering of the story, the three girls have another problem to solve, why has the champion rider Kate Devine, the latest member of Pine Hollow Stables, lost the joy of riding.

Bonnie Bryant’s writing creates not only multiple plot lines, but her style is so personal that young readers 9 – 12 will feel that they too are part of The Saddle Club going through their ups and down, jokes and squabbles.

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