Great Reads (Check to see if we have them!)
by Kathleen Duey
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780689842696 Gr. 2-4. Heart Avamir remembers nothing prior to her rescue as a toddler by Old Simon, and her life since has meant lots of hard work as they struggle to stay alive in their feudal village. Simon is not affectionate, so it's to the village healer, Rosa, that Heart turns when she discovers a starving, injured white horse wandering in the woods. Duey manages a remarkable feat: she has written a beguiling story of love and healing in an easy-to-read style, with short sentences and simple words that flow smoothly across the pages. The impoverished village setting is vividly portrayed, and Heart is admirably strong without being unbelievable. Rayyan's lushly detailed black-and-white illustrations, one per chapter, add to the charm. The book's format and typeface will lure readers who are looking for fantasy that's a bit more challenging than what they'll find in the Magic Treehouse series. As the first book in a quartet, this doesn't come to a full conclusion; instead it sets up readers for the next book in the series. --Susan Dove Lempke
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689842696 Gr 2-4-The first title in a projected series of beginning chapter books introduces reluctant readers to Heart Avamir, an abandoned girl with no memory of her origins, who wakes up one day in a strange feudal community. She lives with the hard-hearted curmudgeon who found her, but it is the neighborhood apothecary, Ruth, who names and befriends her. When the girl finds a wounded mare limping around untethered, she claims it for her own and nurses it back to health despite her guardian's protests that the animal would be better off sold for slaughter. In addition to the limp, the mare bears a deep scar on its forehead, which Ruth acknowledges but is a bit too quick to dismiss. Readers will already have guessed that the mare is really a disfigured unicorn and that Heart, who was found wearing a blanket emblazoned with unicorn figures, is destined to care for the animal. Duey uses simple but evocative language; few words are more than two syllables long. The text is set with wide leading and interspersed throughout with moody, evocative black-and-white illustrations. A cliff-hanging ending rounds out this portion of the narrative. This is a good alternative for children who have outgrown easy-readers but who are not quite ready for longer, denser works of fiction.-Catherine Threadgill, DeKalb County Public Library, Atlanta, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.