Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Horse of a Different Color

A Horse of a Different Color, by Dandi Daley Mackall, is the fourth novel in the Horsefeathers Series.

Scoop Coop's stable, Horsefeathers, will soon be assessed for property taxes and a meeting with the bank manager leaves Scoop worried that her payments may have to increase substantially. Along comes Benson Thayer, riding his runaway Appaloosa, Diablo. Scoop rescues him from riding into the path of a train, and he asks her to help him tame his horse. Ben is cute and he flatters her when he says she’s known as the teenage horse whisperer. Turns out, Ben’s mother has a local TV show, Della’s Folks, where she showcases local points of interest. Ben will remove his horse from the competing stable next door and leave Diablo at Horsefeathers to be re-trained.

Scoop’s conscience begins bothering her: how much has Maggie, her best friend and stable employee, been over-exaggerating Scoop’s abilities? Maggie seems to be moving a little fast with Ben, though she claims she’s hanging out with him to help get Horsefeathers featured on TV. Ben is leading Maggie into his own bad habits, and she’s constantly cutting work. Scoop is in a dilemma; if she stands up to her friend, she risks losing her stable. Scoop also wants to keep Diablo from being auctioned. She relies on her faith and the support of her aunt Dotty to see her through.

What I Like: The writing is good, although the pace of the story is slow. Horse lovers may enjoy Scoop’s identification of the horse breed a person would be if they were in fact, a horse. There are many equestrian details of interest. Scoop is a very prayerful young lady who constantly questions if she's doing the right things.

What I Dislike: I didn’t like the way Aunt Dotty, Scoop’s guardian, was portrayed. She was the most influential adult character and a strong Christian who used prayer constantly, but she spoke with very poor grammar. Scoop wasn't a realistic teen to me. Her point of view and actions were far more adult-like than her peers and she had the responsibility of running a stable, even though she was in high school. Scoop believes Maggie is making poor choices when Maggie over-exaggerates her ability with horses. While I think it’s important for teens to realize there is a fine line between over-exaggerating and lying, it’s a common behavior and not something I would define as making bad choices. However, when Maggie helps Ben buy beer and cigarettes, she’s already been making poor choices in Scoop’s eyes, so there is no sharp contrast.

Maggie is popular, wants to be an actress, and shows off, so she calls herself Maggie 37 Brown. Apparently, the ending color changes with the color she’s wearing that day. This name seemed silly, unrealistic, and this girl would truly be a target for teasing in most schools.

Overall Rating: Ho Hum

Age Appeal: Young Adult

Publisher Info: Concordia Publishing House; 2000; ISBN: 0570070090; Paperback $5.99.

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