Author: Jackie Anton
(Reading level age 8 through Adult)
Review by Jackie O’Neal
Jackie Anton’s book opens with the enlightening perspective of a foal thrust into the physical world of blacksmiths, vets, and humans he refers to as “aliens.’ Anton’s innovative approach at creating Sox’s narrative voice is compelling. Anton’s vibrant language and striking details brought Sox’s world alive, so the reader can share in the excitement the characters feel as they navigate the reining sport arena, and compete.
Anton’s vivid narrative contains effective dramatization, and sensory language which keeps the story moving at an almost breathless pace. The book’s structure works well comprising Emma’s diary entries, dialouge, and Sox’s powerful narrative voice. Emma, a well-realized eleven year old, enjoys a unique bond with the American Quarter Horse. Both appear to be going through separation anxiety.
Anton deftly reveals how Sox is being weaned from being a “suckling foal” and Emma, too is separated from her mother deployed in Iraq. Eventually, the reader captures a universal truth as Anton skillfully develops the relationship between Emma and Sox- the truth that humans can allow themselves to be one with all of creation. Animal lovers will find this book irresistible.
Jackie O’Neal President of
O’Neal Media Author Services
Reviewed by Joy H. for Readers Favorite
Emma is not happy with her current living conditions. When Emma’s parents split a few years earlier, this forced her mom to join the Army in order to make a decent living. Things were fine until Emma’s mom was deployed to Iraq, and Emma was forced to come and live with her grandmother. Being brought up in the lights and blitz of city life, moving to the country didn’t suit Emma at all. And those clothes, why does her grandmother have to dress her like that for school? But Emma’s grandmother, her mom’s mother, wouldn’t let Emma complain to her mom about her unlikable conditions, instead she told Emma to write her thoughts in her journal for her mom to read when she returned home from Iraq. Meanwhile, Sox, a foal with a handicap, is living in the barn on the farm. Just as Emma, Sox is lonely because of his disabilities. Soon Sox and Emma find that they can encourage each other and help one another’s loneliness, so they form a friendship that will take them though a whirlwind of difficulties and excitements in their journey ahead.
This is a heartwarming story about a girl and her horse. Not just any girl, not just any horse. Each had their own disability, but each in a unique way helped the other through their lonely times and troubles. You will laugh a little and cry a little as you follow the journey of these two buddies. You will see the changes and growing up that is happening to Emma through reading her journal entries. You will find out what happens with these two loyal friends. Will they stay together forever? I highly encourage you to grab a copy of this book for your young reader. “Backyard Horse Tales” will be a story they will want to read over and over.