September 10, 2015

Wonder Horse

by Anita Daher
90 pp.
Ages 8-13
May 2015

While any young person who is enamoured with horses will adore this story, the same can be said for anyone who enjoys an inspirational story of finding your way in a new place and with new people, all because of an amazing Wonder Horse.

Based on a real horse with whom she and her daughter became acquainted, Anita Daher has woven a wonderful story about a wonderous horse whose companionship and skills have a wondrous impact on a 13-year-old girl.  That’s Wonder Horse.  That’s saying a lot if you’ve been reading CanLit for LittleCanadians for awhile as you know I’m not a horse person.

After Sera Kaminski and her child-psychologist parents move from Calgary to Winnipeg, they purchase a three-year-old black-and-white painted horse named Wager from Clint Clompke and Grandma Goodie to help with Sera’s self-confidence and to help her “engage with her new surroundings.”  The ever-playful Wager doesn’t always listen to Sera, however, and her parents decide that she and Wager need some formal training.  So as Sera begins school and attempts to make friends–or at least avoid disastrous interactions–Wager is transported to Van Rooy Riding Academy where he and Sera will be coached by Dani Van Rooy.

But Dani sees many of the sweet tricks that Sera has taught Wager–kisses for carrots, how to nod and hug and bow–as inappropriate and leading to bad manners, and Sera hopes that “in correcting his manners, she doesn’t snuff his beautiful spark.” (pg. 17)  There are a number of times where Dani, who is all about safety, goes ballistic because of the way Sera lets Wager get away with some “disrespectful” behaviour that could become dangerous.  And, this is especially critical, when Sera and Wager begin to train for reining competitions which are similar to a Western form of dressage or jumping.

How Sera learns to interact with Wager so that they are successful at reining while still allowing him to be his wonderful self is not unlike how she must learn to be a friend to Devon, the only girl who goes out of her way to befriend Sera, while accepting some attention from Brittany, an uber-popular school mate and fellow rider in Sera’s riding class.  Anita Daher makes it apparent that the paths may not always be obvious and obstacle-free, and that there may be some dangers in choosing one path over another.  But ultimately, the lesson is very clear:  you have to be true to oneself and still find a way to work with others if you are to be happy.  Sera learns this lesson easily, courtesy of Anita Daher, providing a great role model for readers without having to listen to a stable full of preaching.  Even better, Wager, the true Wonder Horse, is and was able to do the same.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful gift this review is! I always appreciate your reviews, Helen, and I am so glad you liked the story. It is close to my heart, and I am still over-the-moon in love with its characters :-)