Monday, March 8, 2010

Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart ****

First, I have to say that this book has something to do with horse racing. And I've really liked horse racing since I was about 13 years old & watched the Kentucky Derby for the first time on TV. So right there, it had me. But it's also a well written book, with some interesting characters & a great insight into what life was like in Kentucky during the Civil War.

The book starts with Gabriel, a 12 year old slave, being given the chance to go to Lexington with his father & also his master. His father has bought himself freedom, & hopes to earn more money to buy both his wife & son theirs also.

Gabriel has a true gift with horses, which he inherited from his horse-training father. With a fair-minded master, he has an easy life for a slave, & he knows it. Opportunities seem to be opening up for Gabriel as a jockey, but just when he thinks he knows what the future will bring, the War invades his work life & his family.

I'm honestly not sure if I'll read the other two books in this series, but I do like this book for the back-door education it gives young readers into the Civil War from a slave's point of view. I never knew myself that Kentucky was a neutral state--it was much more peaceable than my native Missouri, where there were many bloody conflicts. But no state came out unscathed by the war, & no family did either.

Another great Mark Twain Award nominee. The kids of Missouri are voting right now on the winner--I'll be anxious to see what they end up liking the most!


alison said...

Thanks for the nice comments!

Since you're a racing fan, I hope you'll read book 2, Gabriel's Triumph since it's all about horse racing in Saratoga, which continued in all its glory even while the Civil War was raging bloody battles in the South.

alison said...

PS. My newest book, an early-chapter called Emma's River, is all about the mighty Missouri River!

Suelle said...

Thanks Alison! I look forward to reading them both!

alison said...

Suelle, E-mail me via my website address and I'll mail you a copy. That's the least I can do for a fellow book lover. :)