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4.0 out of 5 stars The Island Horse, 16 Aug. 2012
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Island Horse (Hardcover)
For older children or young adults, THE ISLAND HORSE deals with themes of love and loss, of friendship and loyalty.

Ellie is not quite ten when her mother dies. She and her father live quietly in Nova Scotia. A former dock worker, Ellie's father still thinks long and hard about accepting the first job offer he gets in months. This offer means leaving their village and friends, school and home. Ellie's father explains to her that he has been offered a job with the rescue crew on Sable Island, a crescent of sand 25 miles long but only a mile across, which is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. A tiny community lives there, saving lives and salvaging ships' cargoes and timbers from the frequent wrecks on the shifting sands and storm-tossed sea.

Ellie does not want to leave, but they journey to Halifax and sail across to Sable Island, a regular stop for sealers who hunt seals for lamp oil. Ellie sees nothing but dunes, salt grass, marram grass and sky. There are no trees on the island, but there are berry bushes and certain garden vegetables can be grown; flour and beans have to be carried over from the mainland. Ellie meets a girl called Sarah but, miserable and dejected, she doesn't want to make friends. She and her father live in an isolated hut. Walking among the dunes, Ellie sees a wild stallion with a small herd; she manages to befriend him to the point of giving him an apple. Then Ellie hears that a roundup of horses is about to take place - some will be sold off to raise money for the lifesaving work. She has witnessed her father and a team of the other men rowing across the savage waves to rescue seven sailors from a stricken ship. Ellie is terrified that her stallion, named Orchid, will be caught, but her father has to keep his job and she has rejected the offer of friendship from the one girl who might have helped her.

This delightful tale evokes the bravery and simplicity of the rescue station as well as the dangers faced by sailors at that time. The spirited bay stallion, shaggy-coated and long-tailed with his natural caution tempered by curiosity, is finely drawn and remains in the mind when the book has been closed.
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The Island Horse
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