The Horse of the River

Harbour. (A Camp Canyon Falls Adventure: Bk. 1). Mar. 2020. 176p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781550178777.
Gr 4-6–An appealing, tidy adventure novel for the horse enthusiast. Twelve-year-old Gillian is a first-time camper at Canyon Falls Camp, a sleepaway camp in the Canadian wilderness. She is nervous about being on her own but excited about spending so much time riding horses. Gillian is thrilled when she is assigned a gentle horse named Beauty. In the cabin, away from the horses, camper drama ensues. Gillian holds her own against the mean girl in her group. After an accident, Gillian is reassigned to the toughest horse at the camp, General. The action really picks up when Gillian and General fall into a dangerous river and get separated from their trail group. Girl and horse must survive on their own overnight in the woods. This book will appeal to fans of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet and Dan Gemeinhart’s Some Kind of Courage or Melissa J. Morgan’s “Camp Confidential” series. The only odd aspect of the story is Gillian’s voice in her head, whom she has named Stella. Some readers may find Stella and Gillian’s conversations distracting, but the plot keeps the book headed in the right direction. The mean girl conflict is resolved in a satisfactory and realistic manner, as is Gillian’s frightful night alone in the woods.
VERDICT A good start to a promising middle grade series, and a welcome addition to young adventure fiction collections.

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