________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 10 . . . . January 4, 2007


Jumper. (Orca Sports).

Michele Martin Bossley.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2006.
143 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-55143-620-5.

Subject Headings:
Horses-Juvenile fiction.
Show jumping-Juvenile fiction.
Rescues-Juvinenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Todd Kyle.

* /4


She was a deep red chestnut; her coat had a burnished look in the sun. She lifted her head, and for one moment she stared right at me. Her overgrown mane whipped in the wind, but otherwise she was perfectly still. I didn't move, didn't even breathe, but the wind veered, the horses caught our scent, and they began to trot away. The mare cantered ahead, jumped a pile of logs and bracken, then coaxed her playmate to race her, thundering ahead of the band.

"Did you see that?" I said to Grandpa. "That mare jumped those logs like they were nothing!" I knew untrained horses almost never jump--they'd rather go around obstacles if they can.

"She's a natural, all right," Grandpa agreed. His seamed face relaxed in a smile. "Now you just have to catch her."


Reese is a young teen who loves horses and longs to be a competitive show jumper, but her parents can't afford to get her her own horse. Jealous of her rich fellow riding student Kayla, Reese tries to buy a wild horse, which she names Rosie, at an auction. Outbid by a swaggering, sneering rancher named Jim Bellamy, Reese and her grandfather investigate their suspicion that Bellamy is re-selling the horses for slaughter, contrary to the auction contract. Evidence in hand - tampered slaughter documents - the two, plus Kayla, are imprisoned by Bellamy on his farm until Reese slings cow pies at his departing truck and alerts the police. Without explanation, the horse is suddenly Reese's.

     Based loosely on the haunting true story of feral horses auctioned by the Canadian military at an Alberta base, this story is full of unrealized potential. The real story, in 1994, involved unsolved allegations of horse slaughtering for profit. Pairing this with a fictionalized account of a girl's lonely love for one of the horses could be the stuff of equestrian classics, but instead this book is drowned in its one-dimensional portrayal of the evil Bellamy, the implausible crime he commits just to ship horses illegally, and the total lack of palpable tension between downtrodden Reese and rich, carefree Kayla. Other than a few haunting passages describing her love for Rosie, as in the above excerpt, this book is a very poor excuse for adventure, horse books, and teen relationships.

Not recommended.

Todd Kyle is a former President of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians who is currently a library branch manager in Mississauga, ON.


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