“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Horse Crazy Books • Chapter books (illustrated)

Horse Crazy
by Alison Lester illustrated by Roland Harvey
January 2009 • Chronicle Books • Ages 5-8
Bonnie and Sam (short for Samantha) are best friends, and they're horse crazy.
Story: They know every horse in Currawong Creek -- and there are a lot! When Bonnie whispers to horses, they listen, and Sam always knows how a horse is feeling. The girls ride together whenever they can, and they have the best adventures.Discover the charm and adventure of a small town in the Australian bush in the HORSE CRAZY books.
THE SILVER HORSE SWITCH (1): When Sam's dad's horse Drover disappears and a wild horse from the hills appears in her place -- a horse that could be Drover's twin -- the girls have to figure out how the switch was made...and how to keep the new horse's secret!

THE CIRCUS HORSE (2): The circus comes to town the same week as the talent show -- the talent show Bonnie and Sam can't be in. At least they get to make a new friend -- a trick rider their age who performs in the circus. Bonnie and Sam may still get to show off their talents -- if they can be ready in time!
Story behind the story: Alison Lester grew up on a farm in Australia with lots of horses and cows and dogs and cats. The first time she rode a horse she was a baby in her father's arms, and she cried when she had to get off. The horses and ponies in the Horse Crazy books are all based on horses she has ridden at one time or another. She still lives in the country and rides her horse, Woollyfoot, whenever she can. Roland Harvey did not grow up on a farm. He has discovered that horses are easier to ride and draw from a distance, because as soon as they know what you're up to they deliberately stand in funny ways. Roland would quite like to be a horse when he grows up, as long as he's a big one. He lives in the city but spends as much time as he can outdoors.
Lester explains, in Publishers Weekly's Children's Bookshelf, that "the idea for Horse Crazy came to her some years ago. “I was a horse-crazy little girl and have always had horses in my life,” she says. “For a long time I thought about setting a story in a small country town and that idea stayed in my head.” She decided to act on the idea after her friend Harvey sent her a card featuring a drawing of a horse. “I looked at that horse and told Roland he should do a book with horse illustrations, and he told me I should write a book for him to illustrate. And that’s how the series got started.”
Click here to watch a video and hear Alison and Roland talk about the series. Also, download a decoder activity sheet (pdf) or Download poster (pdf).
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent. Please click on the comments link to read what your colleagues have to say!


Barbara said...

For young girls who are "horse crazy" themselves, this is a winner. The watercolor illustrations compliment the text and the glossary of Austalian terms is a handy reference. Readers of this first book would be looking forward to the rest in the series. This is not an age I teach, but would be good as either a read aloud or as one to savor on your own.
Rating 4/5.

Anonymous said...

I received Crazy Horse, book 1, this morning and have read it with my niece.
It is a good first book in the series and will certainly be adored by many.
She is already on the lookout for the second one.
I rate this 5/5!

Carol said...

I just read the Horse Crazy Book #1, The Silver Horse Switch. The characters in the book were likable and the plot was believable. I liked the message too and the unsuspecting invitation to think about wild and tame horses and their diverse needs. This series is about horses and friendship, and this is a popular animal and theme for girls.I especially like how the text and content would serve readers from 2nd-4th grade. I think the watercolor illustrations are beautiful and add to the quality of the books. I like the size of the book too. Having a setting like Australia and the addition of the Australian Terms reference, gives the reader all the more to reflect upon.

Carol Null
Southwest Harbor, ME
K-8 Librarian

Mrs. Horne said...

This book fits right in with a very popular selection of books in my classrooms - Horses! I always have a group of girls who love horses and can't get enough of books like this. This is a little younger than I teach, but is still a cute read for those who can't get enough of this subject matter!

I am very excited about another book set in Australia (like Max Quigley)...this adds diversity and literature from an area that students are not that familiar with.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5/5

Lindsay Horne
New Kent Middle School
New Kent, VA

Lemon the Duck said...

I enjoyed this story, but the illustrations made it for me. They captured the personality of the characters and horses. I loved the map in the beginning of the story and kept going back to see it as I read. The text and illustrations made this book so inviting. This is a sweet story that any girl would enjoy. I look forward to the next one in the series.
I rate this book a 4 out of 5.
Laura Backman
Reading Specialist
Author of "Lemon the Duck"

Michelle said...

I purchased the first two titles for my library and they seem to fly out the door. The combination of little girls and horses make this a must have for public libraries. 5 out of 5.

Amy said...

What a great book for young girls who love horses. The illustrations are a wonderful addition to the text. I can't wait to put this in the hands of my readers in August!

Elementary School Librarian

Martine Battista said...

Although I usually don't care for horse books, Sam and Bon won me over. The color illustrations really added to the story and I learned a few new Australian words along the way. I already have a few kids in mind who will love this. And the line that one of them is sure to point out to me (while giggling, of course) is "He put Pants down, stretched, and yawned." I rate this a 4.
Denair Elementary School Library
Denair, CA

Anonymous said...

This book (series) will definitely be a big hit for girls who have a love of horses. The story is delightful and the illustrations capture the true essence of the characters. 5 out of 5!

Carrie Blagg
Cherokee Elemementary

Stacy B. said...

I read Horse Crazy Book #1, The Silver Horse Switch and enjoyed the simple story which will make for an easy classroom read. Young girls I know absolutely adore horses and will be drawn in by the illustrations and friendships between the characters. It will be a good addition for your classroom library!