Author: Suse Coon

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Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 at 2:12 pm
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Book Reviews

Rocking Horse Wars – Lari Don

“I got the idea when my girls asked for a story about horses (just a quick makey up story before tea!), and as I didn’t want to tell them a story about pony trekking or flying horses I was wondering what else I could do with horses, when that picture of a moving, gleaming, varnished horse by a pool in a wood came into my mind. I knew I was seeing the picture through the eyes of someone who was searching for missing children, and I also knew I wanted to write about her. So I wondered – is that wooden horse friendly, or not? And unfriendly is always more fun, so that is how the story started!”

Rocking Horse War is set in 1927. Author Lari Don explains, “The aftermath of the first world war (the Great War to the characters) is the reason – I needed them all to be born during that time, and to have lost family members in a war, and once I did the arithmetic, 1927 was the perfect year.  Also the very first image I had of the book (Pearl looking at a wooden horse by a pool, and searching for some missing children) didn’t feel like now, it always felt like it was set a while ago.  ALSO the fact that they are comfortable tracking and hunting and riding, and allowed to be out on their own all day, seemed more plausible a few decades ago.  It did mean Pearl and her sisters are handicapped by dresses all the time, but that didn’t stop Pearl climbing trees, walls, cliffs and mountains!”

This is certainly one solution for today’s authors, who are hampered by the nanny society’s attitudes to how much children should be allowed to do on their own. But while Pearl may appear reckless with her own safety, she is very protective of her younger brother and sisters – in fact that’s what the story is about, her search for the triplets who are stolen from their nursery one morning.

As they tramp around the countryside, Lari weaves a tale of past magic and destiny that can be accepted (if you think you know it) or challenged (again, if you think you know it). Passive or active? Are these characteristics one can adopt or deny?

At 239 pages, it’s a good long read for 9-12 year olds who would really enjoy being out and about themselves if it weren’t raining, or if they were allowed sufficient freedom. Fiction can be about escapism into the life of a hero or heroine, or confirmation of  the kind of person you hope to be. There are plenty of children out there who will be excited and inspired by this book, so snap it up on Amazon here

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