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Blazing Courage
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About the Author

Kelly Milner Halls is a full-time children's writer, specializing in quirky topics for reluctant readers. Kelly lives in Washington with her two daughters, one dog, too many cats, and a four-foot rock iguana. Phil Parks has been illustrating books for the past twenty years. He lives in Michigan with his wife Cynthia and their two daughters.

Reviews

Book 1 in the Animal Rescues series tells the story of a home-schooled teen and the wild mustang she buys. Fourteen-year-old Annie works at Top Tier Stable, an upscale barn in Colorado, and saves up her tips to buy a horse of her own. At the auction she attends with Jack, the stable manager, Jack bids on an unbroken 4-year-old mare to keep it from being acquired by the Butcher, a woman reputed to resell horses for dog food. Annie names the mare Poco and under Jack's tutelage, learns to train her with kindness and trust. Meanwhile, she tries to ignore the jibes of the obnoxious Peggy, a girl about Annie's age who boards an expensive horse at the stable. Jack tells Annie that Peggy has problems of her own, but Annie is disbelieving until she sees it for herself. When Peggy's valuable thoroughbred goes missing, Annie and Jack begin to suspect foul play. Halls writes in a brisk, competent style, and Annie's present-tense narration is straightforward. Themes of initiative and understanding are presented skillfully if fairly predictably. With the exception of an implausible decision near the end inserted for tension (why wait hours to check the surveillance footage after a valuable horse has been lost?), the story wraps up satisfyingly, with a bit of a twist regarding the Butcher. Uncomplicated reading done well.--Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal"

Working hard for the Top Tier stable pays off for Annie when she is able to buy her own horse, a small buckskin mare she names Poco. With the assistance of Jack Manley, the manager of the stable, she is training Poco to wear a saddle and bridle and accept a rider. Annie is in seventh heaven until another, very valuable horse goes missing. The horse does eventually return, but he is seriously injured. After that, the stable catches fire, and Annie is instrumental in saving most of the horses. In the aftermath, all loose ends are tied up, and the people responsible for the fire are caught. The plot is elegant in its simplicity while also keeping up a compelling pace, and the characters are convincing and well drawn with subtle complexity. With an accessible, straightforward first-person narrative, this high/low title will be a good selection for struggling readers. Annie's heartening connection with horses and the nicely crafted narrative, however, would make this appealing for anyone who enjoys a good horse story.--Booklist

-- "Journal"

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