Monday, October 19, 2020

Review: Charley's Horse by Judith Shaw


by Judith Shaw
Middle Grade Fiction
ages 8 to 12

Eleven-year-old Charley is crazy about horses. She’s learned everything about them—except how to ride.

Now her world is falling apart. Her parents are splitting up and plan to ship Charley off to a riding camp for the summer. She wants to stay home and fix things, but the lure of her very own horse for the summer is hard to resist. She’ll live with girls who love horses as much as she does, and she’ll finally learn to ride.

It doesn’t turn out that way. From her first day at Secret Lake, Charley feels like an outsider. Her grumpy summer horse won’t look at her, riding lessons are terrifying, and Jane, the camp bully, is out to get her.

How will Charley survive eight weeks of horse camp hell? Friendship with a mysterious black horse is all that makes camp life bearable.

Charley’s Horse is a heartwarming tale of friendship, courage in the face of fear, and the ability to find peace and healing in unexpected places. You don’t have to be a horse-mad girl to love this book. Children of any age will find something to value in Charley’s summer story.


Young horse lovers will enjoy following Charley as she steers through her life and finds solace and friendship in a horse.

Charley loves horses and would do anything to be around them. So, camp should be her dream come true. But life is throwing several things her way, which make this hard. Camp only takes her away from the problem between her parents—their splitting up and she wishes she could stop it...which she can't do from camp. At camp, things aren't rosy either as she deals with the other girls, instructors and a horse, which is not what her ideal one should be. Somehow, she's got to work everything out.

This is a wonderful book for all those middle grade/preteen horse lovers out there. It dives into the realm of horses, and lets readers connect with someone, who loves horses as much as they do. Of course, not path is without stumbles, and this keeps the book interesting and adds just the right amount of tension to keep those pages turning. Plus, the situations are ones readers will be able to sympathize and connect some with their own lives. 

Charley's problems are easy to understand, and while some of her reactions aren't always quite as logical, it's still fun to follow her as she tries to deal with the problems. There are a few messages, which will give the reader a little food for thought, but mostly, readers will simply enjoy falling in love with horses all over again.

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