Laura Bloom (text), and Jesse Blackadder (text), Frankie (Dream Riders #1), Walker Books Australia, May 2019, 226 pp., $17.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781760650513
Frankie and her parents have moved from the city to the country for a ‘tree change’ – but it hasn’t worked out quite they way they planned. Frankie’s parents divorced and her mum has moved in with her partner Vivian, and Vivian’s young daughter. But finally, it looks like Frankie will be getting the horse she was promised when they first left the city. It turns out that horse is a shaggy pony named Zen who is reluctant to do what Frankie says – until she and Zen start working with Shannon, who practices natural horsemanship. Will the bond Frankie and Zen develop be enough to save Shannon’s equestrian centre, and create a natural horsemanship club for other young riders? This is the first book in the series, with subsequent books featuring different characters as their protagonists, and dealing with other issues in young people’s lives, not just horses.
This is an engaging read, which has enough in the way of subplots and character development to appeal to more than horse enthusiasts. Frankie is a realistic, imperfect protagonist who is sure to engage young readers. As a horse rider and as someone who has dabbled in natural horsemanship, it’s great to see it becoming more mainstream and being represented in literature for young people. This book will appeal to upper primary and lower secondary ages, and should do well in school and public libraries. Recommended, especially for horse lovers.
Reviewed by Rebecca Kemble