"A graceful, inspiring children’s book about horseback riding."– Kirkus Reviews
This picture book aims to inspire young children with its story of a young girl who turns her dream into reality through hard work.
Mackey’s debut effort centers on Sally, an athletic girl growing up in an athletic family for which biking, running and swimming are the stuff of summer vacation. “If you can dream it…and if you work hard at it…you can do whatever you set your mind to do,” her mother tells her. Sally’s dream unfolds step by step: She first joins the same swim team as her brother, Ryan, and bikes to swim practice with him and their mother. Ryan also runs, so Sally does too. Then her mother participates in a triathlon—a sport that incorporates swimming, biking and running—and this inspires Sally to try to run the race herself. After a summer of practice, Sally and her best friend, Cindy, finally tackle the triathlon. With her family watching, Sally wins her first triathlon “Finisher” medal; Cindy gets one, as well. The two girls aren’t competitive with each other, however; they end the book by saying, “There is no one I would rather race with than you!” This picture book differs from others in that its main character is slightly older than its target audience, presenting to readers possibilities that are currently beyond their capabilities. It also shows young people that such dreams are not beyond hope. The visually appealing text uses a typeface that’s similar to hand-printing, and the simple sentences and repetition are clearly aimed at a young audience. The illustrations appear to combine watercolor, ink and marker to create a bright, fresh look. However, on some pages, the characters shown don’t appear to match the people mentioned in the text; on others, Sally’s brother and her father look extremely similar, and Sally’s mother looks like a teenager, which may confuse young readers. Some parents may also wish that Sally had a bookshelf in her bedroom.
An often charming kids’ book that provides a model for family engagement in girls’ sports.
Mackey’s (Sally Loves…to Dance!, 2014, etc.) third series installment follows a young girl’s dream of riding in a rodeo.
Sally dreams of riding in the barrel
races and practices her skills with her horse, Dillon, under the guidance of a
horse trainer. After she has her first fall, she becomes part of the “Dusty
Bottoms Club,” but the other girls at the ranch help her up and celebrate her
efforts as the mark of a determined rider. Sally’s love for horses is unqualified
and pure: “To her, their beauty and strength are magical.” And the girls, for
whom horses are a shared and stimulating bond, form a sisterhood: “The riders
at Ladysmith spend a lot of time together. They laugh and hug. They
are always happy, and everyone really loves horses.” Readers will
appreciate the supportive, promising advice of the horse trainer, which leads
to the story’s ending: “Remember all your training. Ease into the barrels,
sit hard for the turns, and then let him go.” This book invites young readers
to indulge their passions for horseback riding and to learn some terms of the
sport along the way; for example, footnotes define “Western style,” “trot and
lope,” “curry,” and “leadline.” Charming pictures of life at Ladysmith Ranch appear
on every page and direct readers through the story. They’ll also catch
glimpses of butterflies, birds, a cricket, a frog, a rabbit, a mouse, and a
wonderful white cat; it’s a pleasure to scan the scenes for these little
creatures, as each one adds a touch of specificity and whimsy to the fairly
simple presentation. Dark outlines surround bright, medium-hued
watercolor-style images, which have just enough facial detail to distinguish
Sally from her best friend, Cheza, whose grandmother owns the ranch. Distinctive
markings contrast Dillon, the gentle and familiar horse, with Duke, a bigger,
more spirited animal. The difference in the horses’ temperaments, in fact, is
almost a story of its own.
A graceful, inspiring children’s book about