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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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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