Books

Hooray for Horse Stories! Add These Three to Your Stable of Books!

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During the pandemic I started to dream of jumping my horse, a horse that I hadn’t had in years. Then it seemed that every reading recommendation list I saw had horse books. So I decided to trot through the pages of these three and I urge you to saddle up to read them! 

This first one I recommend for a great family read aloud.  

Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley.  This book was a bright spot during the pandemic year. It’s a story of a curious racehorse named Perestroika (Paras for short), who meets a proud German Pointer (Frida) that knows charm is the key to survival.  They are joined by a pompous raven (Roule) who always has two cents to add in any situation. Throw in a bickering pair of mallards named Sid & Nancy, some rats residing in an elegant but declining old manor with an orphaned 8-year-old boy named Étienne and his blind great, great grandmother, Madame de Mornay, and you’ve got a charming story of banding together that’s filled with love and hope.  

I felt the freedom of Paras, the horse, exploring the city of Paris. I tasted the bakery treats that Frida, the dog, acquired on her rounds. I felt the dust floating in Madame de Mornay’s manor due to Smiley’s adept descriptions.  I love that the animals were wary of each other but also looked out for each other.

Anthropomorphized animals have of course been a staple of literature since Aesop. I’ve got my favorite talking animal books on my shelf; a childhood favorite “Charlotte’s Web” followed by “Animal Farm”, and “Watership Down”.  This book with be joining these classics on my shelf for years to come. 

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This next book reminds me of having my first riding lessons and finding my tribe of horsey friends when I was about 8 years old. 

If you’re a horse girl, no matter what your age, Carrie Seim’s “Horse Girl” will speak to your heart. Check out the audio clip read by the author on the link. "Horse Girl" chronicles the life of 12-year-old Wills who has lived many places because her mom is an air force pilot. This time around though she and her older brainy sister have stayed behind in Nebraska with their father, rather than go to another post.  

The characters in this charming book are so authentic, Seim nails family interactions and the drama at the barn. There are footnotes throughout that provide information about riding and horse lingo. They were extremely well done as there is a humorous touch that makes learning the facts fun. I appreciated the author’s nod to Marguerite Henry, as I grew up reading the “Misty of Chincoteague” books. This book brought my 60 year old self right back to my first horse show at age nine on a pony just like Minnie! The theme of “finding your forever herd” will resonate with tween readers. This book is destined to be a classic for horse girls everywhere!

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I thought I was the original Horse Crazy girl!  I wanted a horse since I was two, according to my mother.  Then I read Sarah Maslin Nir’s memoir, Horse Crazy: The Story of a Woman and a World in Love With an Animal and I realized I no longer held this title! If you’re a teenage or above, this book is for you! 

Sarah Maslin Nir’s memoir, “Horse Crazy" took me on an unforgettable ride through equine history. Sarah is also a New York Times reporter and her skills shine in this book. I learned and I marveled, as I visited places and horses I never knew existed. Black Cowboys? Breyerfest? Marwari horses? Horse stewardess? The author felt like an outsider and horses were her friends and comfort. Perhaps that is what I related to most, as horses were that for me growing up, too. If you love horses or want to learn about them this book is the perfect ride.

These books are recommended by the head elf at MrsP.com and the charter member of The Tiny Book Club. 

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