Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chancey of the Maury River
Gigi Amateau, il
. Tim O'Brien (cover)
2008, Candlewick Press

An aged schoolhorse named Chancey recalls his early life, the circumstances that led to his semi-abandonment, and his second chance at greatness as the beloved horse of a little girl.

Bred to be a snowflake Appaloosa, Chancey turned out to be a nearly albino foal. His disgusted breeder never forgave him the disappointment, especially when his beautiful dam died in a freak accident soon after his birth. But Monique kept the oddly pale horse, using him as a school horse to teach children to ride.

My prior career as a school horse had been long and diversified. In my youth, I introduced dozens of girls to the artistry of dressage. I carried many a young man through the mechanics of learning to jump....for twenty or so faithful years, I had schooled without complaint, nearly every day and often for many hours

But when Monique falls on hard times and has to sell her horses, no former student steps forward to buy the aging gelding. Chancey recognizes the reasons he was never a favorite; his odd, semi-albino appearance, the rejection of his owner, and his own grumpy demeanor.

In all my days at Monique's as a school horse, I was a reliable worker but had a reputation as being difficult, even mean.

He tries to push away Claire, the stuttering little girl who, suffering from her parents' divorce, forms a bond with the bony old gelding who's brought to live at the Maury River Stables. But she won't have it. She showers him with affection and attention, and for the first time since his dam's untimely death twenty years earlier, Chancey is tempted to develop affection for another living being.

Together, horse and girl do manage to achieve greatness.

Well-written, with many homages to the classic children's stories; the Black Beauty-like style, the horse-becoming-great theme of National Velvet, the 'love makes us real' ethic of books from The Velveteen Rabbit to The Little Prince to Pinnochio.

I suppose, if you have never before been any girl's or boy's favorite horse, no heart longs for you.

The ruminative style is nice, but possibly too old for children to readily accept. The esoteric horsey-language (hunter shows, gelded, etc.), and the fanciful adventures (the horse deliberately leading a person to a clue) are also at odds.

Horse Themes
Horse Show

The Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains

Chancey - white Appaloosa gelding
Starry Night/Dam - black snowflake Appaloosa mare
Gwen - blood bay Hanoverian mare
Daisy - Welsh cob mare
Princess - Arab mare
Dante - black Thoroughbred gelding
Macadoo - blond sorrel Belgian gelding

About the Author
Author Website

Other Books by the Author
Claiming Georgia Tate
A Certain Strain Of Peculiar

No comments: