A young girl wants a horse more than anything, but when she finally gets one, she gets more than she bargained for in Count’s debut middle-grade novel.
Soon after Selah arrives for the summer at her grandfather’s Texas farm, she starts pestering her grandfather for a horse, telling him how much she loves the animals and arguing, “The farm’s too quiet, Grandpa. A horse farm should be alive with horses!” She gets nowhere with that argument, but then she spots a horse running around the meadow beyond the farm. Together, Selah and her grandfather soon set out to find it again, as they believe it’s a black filly that disappeared a few years ago. Selah finds the horse, which now has injured its leg in coiled wire. By the time she and her grandfather free it, Selah is convinced that the horse was sent to her on purpose. It turns out to be the last foal of Harmony, Selah’s grandmother Mary’s horse. Mary, who died when Selah was 4, rode in dressage competitions. Selah’s grandfather gave Harmony to a family friend, who now insists that Selah keep the horse’s descendant. But the animal, named Mary’s Dream Song, is difficult, defiant, and very hard to train. Selah’s grandfather’s old friend invites the girl to train the horse at his facility, and it’s up to her to convince everyone to stick with Dream. Count’s debut is an engaging read. The author clearly knows her horses, as the story includes plenty of details, including specific training methods: “If the trainer is standing tall, leaning in, and looking intently at the horse, then it knows it’s being told to move its feet.” The story also has plenty of suspenseful passages to keep readers engaged. Although Selah’s relationship with the horse is a key part of the story, her relationship with her grandfather is even more important as they deal with their grief over Selah’s grandmother’s death and figure out how to keep Dream in their lives.
An engaging horse tale with a lot of heart.