________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 20 . . . . June 6, 2002

cover Fire Horse. (Mustang Mountain, #2).

Sharon Siamon.
Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2002.
128 pp., pbk., $8.95
ISBN 1-55285-340-3.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

*** /4


At the empty corral, Becky and Meg watched Alison stop to talk to Jesse and then head for the barn.

"She acts like she doesn't even care! "Becky threw up her hands. "I should have known better than to leave the horses with her."

"Don't beat yourself up," Meg told her. "The important thing is to get Windy and Silver back before.."

"Before what? Meg, tell me. Before what?"

"Before Silver hurts his leg any worse, or..." Meg's words tumbled out in a rush ."There's more bad news. Julie said a cougar killed a horse near here last week." She pointed to the high slopes of Mustang Mountain.

"That's just great. A cougar." Becky let her breath out in a long groan. "Come on. We've got to find those horses."

For girls in the 8-12 age group who are passionate about horses, this book is a real page turner. By the end, they'll be hungry for "Mustang Mountain #3."

     The story has three13-year-old protagonists: Becky has been afraid of horses since she was thrown at the age of four. Now her mother, a farrier, has been injured by a horse and has been airlifted to hospital. Meg is a friend visiting from a New York suburb where a weekly riding lesson is her closest contact with the horses she loves. In the previous book, she helped rescue an injured thoroughbred; now it's up to Meg to show that Silver is recovering or he will be destroyed. Alison, Becky's cousin, is also a city girl, but a rich one who is out of her element on the remote Rocky Mountain ranch, and she is more interested in the young ranch hand than in the horses. The three girls face the dilemma of coping with a dramatic horse rescue while each of them works to overcome personal fears and gain confidence as an individual.

     As far as main characters and plot go, this second book in the series can stand alone. Returning secondary characters, however, seem to have been dropped in without enough background. For example, Henry, a British student out to see the world, does not play an important enough role to warrant his reappearance. His ineptness at ranch life could have been used to enrich Alison's character instead. While the plot revolves around the girls' attempts to find runaway horses at risk from a cougar, a wild mustang stallion and a forest fire, the reader is kept off balance by the frequent and random viewpoint shifts from one girl to another and even to secondary characters. One is never able to latch on to one character and move in her shoes through the action. However, the pace is fast, the dialogue natural, and there is plenty of suspense, danger and emotional interaction to hold the reader's interest. Meg's final thought, that "another adventure might be right around the corner," is a rather too obvious lead-in to the coming sequel.


Gillian Richardson is a former teacher-librarian and a published children's writer of fiction and nonfiction, living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364