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Get ready for a wild ride in book two of bestselling author Kathryn Lasky's brand-new middle grade animal fantasy series.
For the filly Estrella, nothing is more precious than freedom. She was born at sea, chattel to men sailing to the New World in search of gold. But Estrella and her herd escaped the conquerors and embarked on a journey across thousands of miles -- braving harsh terrains and fierce predators -- to a land where they can finally run wild.
But now, an unforeseen danger threatens to destroy the pack. A boy with a special gift is lost in the wilderness, and only the horses can keep him alive. But to save the boy, the herd will have to abandon their quest, and risk galloping straight back into the hands-and harnesses- of their captors.
And so, it's up to Estrella, the herd's unlikely leader, to make a life-changing decision. Should the horses accept the orphan boy as one of their own? How do you choose between freedom and friendship?
Adventure stories are always fun. Children of all ages, whether pre-schoolers or adolescents, enjoy reading about amazing travels, incredible difficulties overcome, feats of bravery, loss and restoration - all are part of the standard adventure yarn. And, of course, there has to be a definite ending. The baddies are put in their place, the goodies are victorious, and, even though there might be some sad events, good triumphs ultimately and everyone lives happily ever after. That is, until the next time!
This book fulfils all the criteria of a good adventure story - except that the main characters happen to be horses rather than humans. Not that this matters in the least: Estrella, Hold On and their herd are every bit as interesting and as complicated as any human hero or heroine, and this is undeniably their story. The other animals and humans hold far less importance in the narrative although they certainly play their part. And there were good and bad among the horses just as there were among the humans and other creatures.
I read this story to a group of ten and eleven year olds and they loved it. Even the boys, who sometimes think "horse" stories are a little sissy, were enthralled. There was just enough peripheral action to hook them in, and they also enjoyed the fact that there was a supernatural element with the spirit horse and Haru who had found a spirit lodge. We read the book over the course of four sessions, and each time we stopped they begged me to continue. I did not need to recap each time; they remembered perfectly what had happened last and were keen to find out what would come next.
Although this is one of a series, it worked perfectly as a standalone story. It was not necessary to have read the previous book although, having read this one, I am keen to read more of the series myself and to share them with the young people in my own family and also in my classes at school. This is the second of Kathryn Lasky's books that I have read and I have to say it was just as good as the first. One of the characteristics of a well written book is that adults can enjoy it just as much as the younger readers it was designed for. I would certainly purchase this book and would also recommend it to others.
Star Rise is the second book in the Horses of the Dawn series by Kathryn Lasky and was even better than the first. The first book in the series really set the scene and lead into book number two and book two has left me wanting the rest of the series.
I must say I love that this book is hardback instead of paperback I don't know what it is but hardback copies just seem so much more special to me. Once again though I have to say I think the series is more suited to 10 plus rather than the 8-12 year old range it's aimed at. Some of the concepts are just a little too much for the average 8 year old.
I found this book had more points of view than the last as it was focused a lot on just one horse and her view on life. It addresses many different morals and themes throughout the book and offers many lessons on life without you even noticing until much later. The importance of freedom, family and over coming obstacles in life being the main lessons in book two.
Star Rise ends with the horses still on their journey and leaves you waiting for book 3 to see where life is going to take them next! Kathryn Lasky has made a wonderful start to a series suited to a wide range of ages, it's just as enjoyable for adults as it is children.
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"Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life - is the source from which self respect springs."
Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'