COUGAR by Helen V. Griffith


Age Range: 8 - 12
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Just as Nickel, his aunt Starla, and her husband, Joe, turn into the farm road that leads to Joe’s parents’ house, the boy is astonished to see a magnificent black horse dash in front of their car, narrowly avoiding being hit. Neither Starla nor Joe saw the horse, and it turns out that there is no longer a horse on the farm. Just before Joe came back, the barn burned down, and Joe’s horse, Cougar, died in the blaze. As the makeshift family settles in with the Clendaniels, Nickel learns more about the horse, and how it was jealous of Joe’s bike and once tried to nip at it. When Nickel is pursued by bullies at his new school, he chooses the ruined old barn as a hiding place; as he crouches, he feels a hunk of metal that is warm to his touch, while his pursuers complain of getting cut. Nickel has found, in the place where Cougar died, Joe’s old bike; he and Joe’s father, Pop, restore it. When the bully strikes again, the spirit of Cougar, inhabiting the bike, saves Nickel. It’s a strange tale, weakened by the supernatural element, yet horse lovers will find it comforting. In the satisfying ending, as Nickel becomes part of a loving family and comes to understand himself a little better, readers won’t fail to be moved. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 27th, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16337-8
Page count: 106pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999