A standout story with a strong heroine and an authentic voice.

CLIP-CLOP CHRONICLES

STORIES OF A GIRL AND HER HORSE ADVENTURES

A young girl doesn’t let setbacks keep her from following her passion for competitive horseback riding in this debut middle-grade novel.

Twelve-year-old Roz Stone dreams of someday making history by being the first African-American rider to win the International Federation for Equestrian Sports competition, which she calls the “Superbowl” of horseback riding. But first, she has to figure out a way to continue to pay for her riding lessons and prepare for a competition after losing her lawn-work clients thanks to a damaged riding mower. In this lively, first-person narrative, Roz’s challenges also include a wealthy, mean girl named Zoe (who’s a good rider but a bully); an injured ankle; and family members who feel that horseback riding isn’t an appropriate sport for African-Americans (“Nearly all of my cousins thought I was crazy,” the young girl says. “They told me that Black people didn’t ride horses”). Roz is undeterred, though, and her twin sister, Estelle, and her wise grandmother have her back. And although Roz is the only rider of color at her rural community’s riding school, she has a good friend and a mentor there for support and the historical success stories of African-American jockeys, polo players, and dressage and jumping champions for inspiration. Witherspoon-Cassanova has created a cast of believable characters, led by the spirited and thoughtful Roz, in a realistic world founded on the importance of family, faith, and strength of character. She also draws on her own firsthand riding experiences and her involvement with an equine therapy program. Roz’s enthusiasm is contagious, her ups and downs are relatable, and the lessons she learns are delivered without preachiness and feel organic to the story. The story also deftly keeps readers guessing about how it will all end. The only flaw in this otherwise sterling debut is a handful of distracting typos (such as “So I Mark was my person” and “I willing broke my promise”). Overall, though, this novel will resonate not only with horse-loving tweens, but with any young readers who are determined to march to their own drummers.

A standout story with a strong heroine and an authentic voice.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9986813-0-6

Page Count: 244

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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