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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Galloping Through History: Amazing True Horse Stories, by Elizabeth MacLeod. Annick Press, 2015. $14.95 ages 9 and up

"Blackie wasn't born in the mines but he was still just a young pony when he and the other Shetlands on the Thomsons' farm were first walked to the coal mine. One by one the other ponies were fastened into a cage and lowered into the ground. Then it was Blackie's turn. He whinnied with fear and bucked and kicked, but the men spoke softly and kindly to him  ..."

Kids who love horses love them passionately. You will know who they are. This is a book written for them. It will also capture the attention of other readers who like their nonfiction told in story form.

Elizabeth MacLeod is a master researcher and a very adept storyteller. I was lucky enough to act as liaison during one of her trips to Manitoba. She is completely at home sharing her passion for writing, keen to chat about her interests in friendly conversation. So, it is no surprise that her books have that same congenial tone. In her new book, she introduces her audience to these much-loved equine companions that have changed life for many - for more than 5,000 years.

"They gallop and whinny their way into our hearts, and capture our imagination - but they have also changed history. Horses have done more to transform civilization than any other animal. Horses are the only four-legged animal that has changed the way humans live, travel, fight, work, and play."

Ms. MacLeod bookends her stories with two horses that will be recognized for their place in history.
Beginning with Bucephalus, the black stallion that fascinated Alexander the Great from the moment he saw him, when he was only 12 years old. The horse made a fool of anyone who tried to ride him - until Alexander. Together for 18 years, the two fought valiant battles and it is surmised that the loyal horse died after keeping Alexander safe when he was in grave danger. Finally, she shares Seabiscuit's story. No one expected the 'runty little bay Thoroughbred' to amount to anything, despite his genetic history. But a highly successful trainer believed in him; it wasn't long until Seabiscuit was faster than any other horse in the western United States. The rest, they say, is history!

The pages between the stories of these well-known horses allow a glimpse at the mustangs, the mail movers of the Pony Express, pit ponies, and Star, a horse hero of the Revolutionary War. Information boxes, contemporary and archival photos, captions, and artworks add interest and provide additional information for interested readers.

If you know someone who loves horses, this is the perfect book for purchase.

"Sybil's ride on April 26. 1777, changed history, and she couldn't have done it without Star. Without a horse to ride, Sybil would not have been able to muster her father's troops in time to fight the British."

1 comment:

  1. Hi and thanks for such a great review. I loved writing this book so it's wonderful to know that people are enjoying reading it. I have really great memories of my trip to Manitoba -- thanks for the reminder and for your help!