Alison Lester: The Circus Horse (Horse Crazy 2)
Allen & Unwin - £4.99
The image above is the American printing of the book, having had a bit of a spend recently at Book Closeouts, an American company who sell bargain books!
I've heard good reports of this series, so was keen to see what it was like, now it's being published in the UK, having been a roaring success in its native Australia. This is the second book in the Horse Crazy series about Bonnie and Sam, aimed at newly confident readers, or as a read to, from 5-7 upwards. Bonnie and Sam are, I guess, around 9 or 10, and are indeed horse mad. The Circus Horse is about Bonnie and Sam's attempt to enter the local Talent Contest. They practise and practise a circus routine on their borrowed pony Tricky, having already had a go on Bonnie's dad's Hereford bull, Pedro, who proves that cattle can buck just as well as ponies. Alas, animal acts are banned from the Talent Contest because of the problem of insurance, but all of course ends well when the girls meet Bella Donna, circus equestrienne.
The illustrations are wonderful: quirky and full of life, and completely and utterly devoid of pink. The story is just as good; it's well constructed, beautifully observed, with flashes of humour. If I had a child of the right age I'd buy this like a shot: it's a book I could have read without being tempted to edit as I went, and surreptitiously flick to the end to see how much there was to go.