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by Hope Ryden & illustrated by Paul Casale

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-77519-1
Publisher: Clarion

 Alison doesn't really want to spend the summer she turns 13 on a ranch in Wyoming with her cousin Kelly, who is blind. First of all, Alison believes she'll be expected to spend the whole summer leading Kelly around. Second, Alison is afraid of heights, and a horse looks pretty high to her. Kelly turns out to be remarkably independent, especially when she's riding her mustang, Cookie, and she ends up guiding Alison, who feels woefully timid and untrained around the hardworking ranch family. They draw her in, though, giving her responsibilities of her own, and patiently helping her through her fear of riding. Her test comes when a wild mustang stallion courts Cookie and causes her to escape. Mustering all her courage, Alison and a neighbor, Matt, go after Cookie on horseback. Ryden (Out of the Wild, 1995, etc.) raises this a cut above most horse stories by including a wealth of information about horses, a fresh, lively setting, and an interesting character in Kelly. Unfortunately, she incorporates too much of the factual information on horses into dialogue, resulting in some stiff, unlikely conversations. Nevertheless, believable feelings combined with plenty of action build to a dramatic climax. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-14)