A delightful pacy read to captivate young and old.
Russell can never do anything right. Not since his disastrous seventh birthday party. His once best friend now bullies him and he’s failing his grades. His life ambition is to be a fireman, but he knows he’ll never be brave enough, that he’ll mess that up too. To add insult to injury, he’s also expected to take his grandfather to ride the carousel in the park every afternoon, as if Granddad was a little kid.
But when Granddad insists one day that Russell rides too, the boy discovers what being brave is really about.
Find The Magic Carousel here.
Russell is a sympathetic hero with all the worries of his age, and young readers will relate to him. The author dips him, and the reader, in and out of wonderfully told hair-raising adventures with heartache, drama and near death experiences, which challenge the boy’s courage both physically and mentally. Along the way he learns lessons he can carry through to his own everyday world. The secondary characters play their parts well, especially the horses with their different circumstances and unique personalities.
The book is also – whisper it – educational, but there’s no bogging things down with turgid history lessons. Russell is thrown into times and situations where he is totally ignorant and has to make things up as he goes along. But the author has cleverly reinforced these subliminal history lessons with an appendix which briefly gives the background.
Highly recommended – after all, I read it in one sitting. (And you kind of have to buy it for that gorgeous cover by Brandon Dorman alone – that horse is coming right at you!)
PS Read my interview with the author here and find out about the inspiration behind the books and her life long love of horses.