Buy “The Georges and the Jewels Horses of Oak Valley Ranch, Book 1 (Audible Audio Edition) Jane Smiley, Angela Goethals , Recorded Books Books” Online
This book was so perfectly right for me, that I originally felt I couldn’t judge it objectively. So, first I gave it to my daughter who is just starting to ride. And, then I gave it to my mother who was never bitten by the horse bug. We all absolutely loved it. It is a wonderful book that while just right for a nine year old, has the ability to appeal to children and adults alike. I would recommend it to people of any age and with varying degrees of interest in horses. It is that good. It is the story of a 7th grade girl named Abby growing up in 1960’s California horse country. She helps her father train horses so that he can claim, “Kid’s Horse for Sale. ” There are several great story lines that come together in this fast read to make us truly feel for Abby. A central theme is Abby’s evolving relationship with a particularly difficult horse, that continues to throw her off. Through the course of the book we see various adults interact with the horse with mixed success, and eventually are able to witness a coming around thanks to a horse whisperer. The horse training details are simultaneously specific, graphic and enlightening. Most of all, it is particularly nice to witness it through the frank eyes of a young girl. At the same time, Abby is growing up in a born-again Christian household where she is faced with the challenges of having her family’s beliefs conflict with the things she is learning at school as well as the estrangement of her brother. This element of the book is important to the development of Abby’s character, but is not overly described and is consistently presented without judgment. I wondered if Violet would ask questions about this religious component, but she didn’t. She took it at face value, and was much more interested in the social dynamic in Abby’s school. As Jane Smiley so adeptly puts it, “The best thing that can happen to you in seventh grade, really, is that you float from one classroom to another like a ghost or spirit, undetected by the humans. ” Ms. Smiley is a master of the human dynamic, and perfectly brings her skills to bear in helping us experience a little bit of that dreaded 7th grade one more time. Fortunately, it is not too painful to re-live, while there is at least one character in there that each of us can relate to. There is nothing remotely inappropriate in this book for children. Most of all it has a fairly just ending, which I really do like in books – especially children’s books. There are many accomplished children’s authors out there. [. ..] We can now add Jane Smiley to the list of fantastic authors that we can be grateful to for writing exceptional literature for our kids. Thank you, Jane. I also want to add a special shout out to the illustrator, Elaine Clayton. She graces the beginning of each chapter with illustrations of various horse accessories, and they are delightful. While I was sad to finish this book, it is nice to be able to go back and look at the illustrations from time to time. – Jessica Wheeler Check it out!
The Georges and the Jewels: Horses of Oak Valley Ranch, Book 1 Audible – Unabridged Jane Smiley (Author), Review
The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley is another of my “Love it!” book for horsey readers of all ages. The title refers to the horses on the Lovitt farm – all the geldings are called George and the mares, Jewel. Abby’s father insists this so that they don’t become attached since all the horses are for sale. The 7th grader has her share of problems from difficult horses to ride to social interaction with her peers. She finds solace in the “good” horses, especially a new foal, she names Jack despite her father’s rule. With help from a gentle horse trainer, she learns important life lessons about horses and people alike. I look forward to reading the sequel about Jack growing up! -Read Reviews-
This is the kind of horse novel I’ve been looking for, one that is actually about horses and is not a soap opera set in a barn. The central story here is about a 12-year-old girl who is trying to cope with an uncooperative horse called Ornery George. She is expected to help her father train him so that he can be sold at a profit, but the horse keeps bucking her off. While she’s perfectly comfortable with the other horses at her dad’s barn, she’s scared of Ornery George, and for good reason. There are a number of other threads woven into this one. Her parents are born-again Christians, which creates some complications in her life. I like that her religious family is portrayed neither as positive nor negative. Her father is sometimes kind and sometimes unreasonable. She seems to like her church reasonably well, but her family’s restrictions cause her problems with school and friends. School is another sub-thread. She’s in the 7th grade and struggling with a girl who seems to be out to "steal" her best friend, and also a clique of four other girls which she tries simply to avoid. Mean girls are a staple of this genre, but these girls are more complex. There is no over-the-top villain, just a group of girls jockeying for status, sometimes in unsavory ways. Three different trainers help the heroine out with Ornery George, and only one of them is able to make any progress with him. The training methods are presented without judgement. It’s not a case of evil trainer vs. good trainer, but more a case of trying out different methods and learning a method that works for this horse.