Book Review: The Island Horse

Although Ellie is only nine, going on ten years old, she knows the soul deep grief of losing her mother to illness. Ellie’s father quit his job to enjoy the last few months of her mother’s life together as a family but paying jobs are few in the little Nova Scotia town where they lived. A job offer on Sable Island as part of a shore rescue team means Ellie must give up her friends, the only home she has ever known and move far from her mother’s gravesite. Despite her father’s efforts to make the transition easier, it is a wrenching experience that Ellie struggles to cope with. Meeting Sarah, a smart island girl about her age does nothing to dispel Ellie’s gloom, frustration and anger.

Then one magical day, Ellie meets a beautiful wild stallion and feels an instant bond with the horse which she eventually calls Orchid. Ellie builds a tentative rapport with the stallion and his little band of mares and foals. To her horror, Ellie learns of regular island roundups that gather and cull the wild horses, sending the best to the mainland to help pay to keep the rescue station operational. Frantic to protect Orchid and his band, Ellie confides in her father and Sarah. Together, they work out a plan to hide the horses and in the process, Ellie begins finding some much needed healing.

Set in the 1800’s, this sweet story with charming line drawings deals with love, loss, friendship and healing in a way that kids can identity with. Young horse lovers in particular will enjoy this historical fact based story about Sable Island and the hardy horses that continue to make it their home.

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