Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Island Of Lost Horses by Stacy Gregg: Book Review

Two girls divided by time, united by their love for some very special horses – an epic Caribbean adventure!
On a remote tropical island, twelve year-old Beatriz is about to embark on an epic journey, through hurricanes and across the high seas and back to the time of Christopher Columbus…

When Beatriz stumbles across a wild mare with strange markings in the jungle she can’t believe it is real. Yet from that moment on the strongest connection grows between them, and she begins to uncover an incredible history. For centuries ago, Felipa and her horse, Cara Blanca, were running for their lives.

As the fates of Beatriz, Felipa and their horses become entwined, Beatriz realises that the future of the world’s rarest horses depends on her.

Based on the extraordinary true story of the Abaco Barb, a real-life mystery that has remained unsolved for over five hundred years.

If "The Girl Who Rode The Wind" didn't convince you how beautiful and majestic horses can be, then this book definitely will. The third stand-alone book written by Stacy Gregg will have you wondering why you're not out in the wilderness searching for long-lost, ancient species of wild horses. The unforgettable tale of the Abaco Barb horses which somehow descended from Spain to an island in the Bahamas; this is Stacy Gregg's version of her theory woven into an amazing children's novel which has stunned enough to win an award. This is the story of a twelve year old girl who has an undying love for horses (much like any horse obsessed person) yet can't manage to convince her marine biologist mother to let her move in with her Dad back in Florida in order for her to be able to do riding lessons, instead of travelling in a large boat they now call home looking for Jellyfish.

Beatriz is a typical horsey kid, much like how I was having a mother who would refuse to let me go have lessons, though our problem with that was more so having no money for it rather than living on a boat in the ocean for a living. I love how she was so interested in the wild horses and her wild imagination automatically thinking that the mare she finds in the forest is hers by default. It is definitely something I would have thought as well at that age. Immediately, showing the first diary entry of hers, Beatriz struck me as an adventurous and imaginative kid. Making friends with a native on the island was pretty risky, especially Annie being an old woman living by herself with no family or friends around her and who owned a seriously strange home in the middle of nowhere. That type of thing generally brings up a few questions as to why and I felt Beatriz' mum's concern when she realised that Annie had kept her at her house for two days straight. For some reason I automatically liked Annie, maybe it was just how open minded she was about everything from the wild horses to the crazy herbs she used to keep negative influences away. I guess that's typical from someone like an old woman who lives by herself. Throughout the novel, Beatriz seemed to gain a great sense of maturity and ownership and that type of thing is major for a kid her age. I bet most kids who read this book would be thinking, "Wow I would totally love to have a mum who had a job as a marine biologist and lived on a boat in the Bahamas". As Beatriz explains, it isn't as glamorous as it sounds but personally I wouldn't mind it, despite probably feeling a little seasick. Stacy managed to write a story which created a fantasy world for a horsey girl and made it feel almost real. Comparing Beatriz to the girl, Felipa from the 1600's, who had a long-lost diary which Annie found, showed a great contrast in the time and age of now. It would show younger children reading this novel what it was like back in the day of royalty and how the gender roles have dramatically changed in the past few centuries. But most importantly I felt like it was a tool for Beatriz to gain the courage to stand up for what she believed in and felt passionately about.

The basis of the story was about the famous Abaco Barb horses, the Medicine Hats that somehow mysteriously ended up on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. This is what I love about Stacy's latest work: she has started to do background research on her stories before she writes them and I absolutely love that because it give the book more of a purpose, makes it more special than any other fictional work, and it acts as a beacon of information - teaching kids the more important things going on in the world. This story in particular is special in its own way because its about the beloved Medicine Hats with bloodlines dating back to Spain in the early 1500's. Here is a picture of one if you would like to visualise it better while reading this book:

Overall I have to give this book a 5 out of 5 stars because it is so unique and well thought through, You have to give Stacy extra points for her research and time spend creating such a childhood masterpiece. This is one story that will stick with you for the rest of your life!

Thank you HarperCollins New Zealand for the review copy! Go like their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Harpercollinsnz?fref=ts

Go add The Island Of The Lost Horses to your Goodreads list HERE

Go buy it on MightyApe with 1 day delivery in New Zealand HERE

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