Storm Horse

256p. ebook available. Scholastic/Chicken House. Jan. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545904148.
Gr 3–6—When Flip's wastrel father is killed in a car accident with the car he has just stolen, Flip ends up on a farm on a tiny island in the North Sea with his taciturn uncle. Flip's mother ran away three years before and no longer writes. Flip's aunt and cousin are friendly, but bereft and lonely city boy Flip has to sleep in the barn and learn to do farm work to earn his keep. Everything changes for Flip when he rescues a horse from the sea during a terrible storm. "Storm" only responds to Flip, but the horse's fears, compounded by the bullying tactics of the wealthy Mesman boys and their hotelier and developer father, lead the animal into some expensive accidents, and it takes everything Flip can do to hold on to his horse and help his uncle save his farm. Garlick successfully creates the atmosphere of a rural island lost in time and at the mercy of the weather. The rugged islanders are used to dealing with the hardships and isolation of living in the middle of the North Sea, and Flip, who has come from a cramped basement apartment in Amsterdam where he lived with his criminal father, miraculously thrives on the island farm, discovering his hidden talent as a horse whisperer. Garlick's depictions of Storm's behavior are authentic and sympathetic, and animal lovers will identify with Flip's battle to protect his horse. Although the conflicts are simplistically resolved, with the farm saved, the wicked hotelier with his bullying sons dispatched, the mute girl suddenly speaking, and Uncle Andries unbending, young readers will find Flip and Storm's vindication and heroism ultimately very satisfying.
VERDICT An affecting tale that's ideal for fans of horse fiction.

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