From the publisher:
Blue Ribbon Trail Ride by Miralee Ferrell (David C Cook, 2016 – Book #4 of the Horses and Friends series)
Thirteen-year old Kate and her friends came up with the perfect way to raise money for her autistic younger brother and others to attend summer camp—a horse scavenger hunt! As local businesses donate money and prizes, Kate keeps the entry fees in her mom’s antique jewelry box.
But when the box and the money disappear, Kate and her friends must unravel the clues, hold on to hope, and solve the mystery along the Blue Ribbon Trail Ride.
The good: The main character in this book (and series), Kate, has several faults, which is good because it makes her more relatable and realistic. She’s hasty to judge others and often needs to backtrack on her verbal actions to apologize and make amends. This flaw is great to tie-in to middle grade novels because we all need practice with choosing words. The horses are also a highlight of this book (and series). Most of the riders ride English (dressage, flatwork, and jumping), but mention is made of Western riding, as well. The connection between horse and rider is described well and very enjoyable to read. We also see the most variety in character personalities and backgrounds in this book of the series.
A few cautions: I feel most of the book “talks down” to the middle grade reader. Much of the book’s lessons are blatantly told to the reader through outright inner and external dialogue rather than allowing the reader to infer morals/themes from character actions and plot conflicts. (Lots of “telling” rather than “showing.”) Dialogue is also often used to move the plot along rather than actual action, dulling the reading experience at times. The “friends” characters within the book are around 13 years old, yet their dialogue is somewhat unrealistic (problems are solved too quickly, dialogue feels better suited to 8- and 9-year-olds talking at many points). Some readers and families may agree with many of the stereotypical boy-girl remarks made throughout the story, but some may find it limiting.
*Special note for families with special needs: I believe that the author genuinely tried to include a child with autism realistically, however I do have to warn that many special needs families may take offense to how autism is referenced in these books. I am a mother of a child with special needs (though not autism), and it stung to read that the child’s family referred to him as “needing to be fixed” or “growing out of autism.” I do not believe that the author meant any harm, but I feel it worth mentioning as a caution.
Horse-loving preteens will probably enjoy this series, regardless of its faults. It also teaches good lessons, though perhaps not always realistically solved, and the lesson become more of the focus of this story than the plot and adventure.
Check out the Litfuse page for more information about this book and author.
Which horse-related books are your family’s favorites for middle grade readers?
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the Litfuse blogging team in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!
This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.