Reread: The Scorpio Races

by Maggie Stiefvater
First sentence: “It is the first day of November, and so, today, someone will die.”
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Content: It’s violent. But, if there’s a kid, say, 11 years old or so, who is interested in dark fairy-type tales, I’d give it to them. It’s in the Teen (grades 9+) section of the bookstore.

I picked this one up again after Maggie visited the store on her All the Crooked Saints tour, and I took pictures of fans for her, and listened to her chat them up. She said, over and over, that Scorpio Races was her favorite. And so, I decided that while I’d read it before, it had been a while, and I should revisit it.

And it was everything I thought about it and SO MUCH MORE. I don’t think, six years ago, that I was prepared for the awesomeness that is Maggie’s writing. Now, after Raven Cycle and Saints, I think I’m beginning to appreciate how wonderful a wordsmith she is. She captured a place — granted it doesn’t really exist — and a mythology so well, it could be real. And she made me FEEL so much that I cried during the last couple of chapters. Maybe this isn’t the best place to start with Maggie’s writing, but it’s definitely a truly breathtaking book.

She really is one of my favorite authors.

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A Horse Called Hero

by Sam Angus
First sentence: “Wolfie stopped, distracted by the stacks of sandbags and newly dug trenches.”
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There’s really nothing objectionable for the target audience, though there are letters written in cursive, and I know my 3-5 graders would have problems deciphering those. There’s also several intense situations, so if you have a sensitive child, you might want to shy away from that.

Dorothy and Wolfgang Revel — they go by Dodo and Wolfie, however — are children in London the winter of 1940 when the German bombs start dropping. Their father is called up to serve in the army — he was a celebrated commander during World War I — and they are sent off to Northern England to live with strangers. They’re doing okay, until word comes back that their father was arrested for desertion. Then, they are outcasts in this strange place. That is, until they’re taken in by the school teacher. Whereupon Wolfie chances across a horse being born and adopts it for his own.

If you can’t tell my my enthusiastic summary of the first 50 pages (which is really all that is; this book covers an enormous amount of time), I am not a horse person. And, alas, this book did nothing to help with that. I kind of had hopes that this would be Inspiring and Uplifting and help me see what people find in horse books, but… no. I was bored. The basic plot revolves around Wolfie’s love for Hero The Horse and the kids’ concern about their father. There was an incident when Hero saved them after they got trapped in the bog, and another when Hero helped Wolfie get out of a mine after an explosion, but by then, I was so Bored because of the lack of Real Plot (and the extended time; Wolfie was 5 or so when it started, and 14 by the end), I was just skimming.

I am sure that there are kids who would Love this one, but I am not one of them.