Award winning young reader author Anne Hambleton is a lifelong horsewoman and retired amateur steeplechase jockey. She actively trains and competes former racehorses for sport careers in three-phase-eventing and show jumping and drew inspiration for RAJA, Story of a Racehorse from her off-the-track Thoroughbreds.
RAJA, Story of a Racehorse earned a Kirkus star, was named as a Kirkus Best of 2012 Indie and has won several other awards, including a Mom’s Choice Gold Medal. Anne enjoys speaking to young readers at schools and libraries and has been known to show up with a four-hooved, carrot-loving guest.
The horse classics Anne read growing up - Black Beauty, National Velvet, and the Black Stallion series - along with her total addiction to Dick Francis racing mysteries, fanned the flames of her passion for equine sport, convinced her that she actually could be a jockey (like a Dick Francis character), and continue to keep her getting back in the tack every time she hits the dirt.
A consultant specializing in environmental markets and corporate sustainability, Anne graduated from Middlebury College and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She lives on a horse farm in Vermont with her family, two Labrador retrievers and “the boys” – the minor herd of former racehorses she trains and cares for.
RAJA, Story of a Racehorse is Anne’s first novel, although she is a published author of articles on the subjects of Sustainable Development and Carbon Markets in policy journals and scholarly books. She has also written speeches for the former President of Costa Rica – but that’s a whole ‘nother story…
“...weaving her knowledge and love of horses, horsemanship and the world of competitive racing into a moving narrative that will keep fellow horse-loving readers of any age enthralled.”
– Kirkus Reviews
An outstanding debut novel for young people by retired amateur steeplechase jockey Hambleton, who uses her knowledge of horses and the equestrian world to tell of the tragedies and triumphs that befall a thoroughbred racehorse—from the horse’s point of view.
Reminiscent of Anna Sewell’s 19th-century classic, Black Beauty, in its deeply felt narrative as voiced by a thoroughbred racehorse, this first-time novel for ages 11 and up is written with empathy and a vivid sense of drama by Hambleton, a lifelong equestrian and former amateur steeplechase jockey. Raja, a promising foal of distinguished lineage, bears the “Mark of the Chieftain” on his forehead. Bedouin legend has it that such a mark predicts either “great glory” or “great despair” for a horse, and Raja assumes that his road to glory is assured after triumphs on the track as a 2-year-old lead to early Kentucky Derby buzz. But the world of racing has a dark side. An injury, sparked by Raja’s fear of thunderstorms, drops the sensitive horse into obscurity and worse. What follows is a colorful succession of owners and riders (good and bad), a brush with horse drugging and the ugly reality of “kill buyers,” who purchase former racehorses for their meat. Friends and enemies, both human and equine, appear and reappear in Raja’s life as fate takes him far from his pampered youth. Along the way, the elegant horse learns dressage, Cossack trick riding, the exhilarating art of steeplechase—and the depth of his own courage. Hambleton’s compelling prose—deftly interwoven with technical realities and the emotional investment inherent in horse training, racing, care and ridership—is accompanied by a glossary of horse-world terms and evocative pencil drawings by Margaret Kauffman, a professional sculptor and horsewoman. Lifelong equestrian Hambleton makes an impressive outing as a first-time author of juvenile fiction, weaving her knowledge and love of horses, horsemanship and the world of competitive racing into a moving narrative that will keep fellow horse-loving readers of any age enthralled.
Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2011
Page count: 261pp
Publisher: Old Bow
Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012
Favorite line from a book
“everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in their life.” Velvet Brown's mother in Enid Bagnold's National Velvet
Unexpected skill or talent
Able to drink a glass of water (or beer!) balanced on my forehead without using my hands
Passion in life
Horses, Food, Farm, Travel
RAJA: STORY OF A RACEHORSE: Kirkus Star
RAJA: STORY OF A RACEHORSE: Mom's Choice Gold, 2012
RAJA: STORY OF A RACEHORSE: Benjamin Franklin Silver, Young Reader Fiction 8-12, 2012
RAJA: STORY OF A RACEHORSE: IPPY Bronze Medal for Juvenile Fiction, 2012USEA Blog Book Review, 2012 Review: Retired Racehorse Blog, 2012 Review: HorseJunkiesUnited, 2012 Review: Horsecrazygirls.com, 2011
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