Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rodeo Rocky Book Review

As a writer I am also an avid reader, often reading three books a week. Frequently I read Children's and Young Adult books, because that is what I write. I usually throw in a non-fiction and an adult book a week too. I've decided to try and do a book review here as a regular thing. My first one was WILD HORSES, and I did that one as a favor. The second one is RODEO ROCKY, also as a favor.
Written by Jenny Oldfield, the book is written for middle grade readers 7-13 years. It is the continuation of the character Kirstie Scott and her life in Colorado. This time Kirstie is rescuing a wild stallion 'rodeo' horse, and trying to rehabilitate him for their Colorado Western Adventure Ranch.
While I don't have any problems with the actual writing style, I have a few problems with the subject. Reading any story is subjective, but Ms. Oldfield -from the UK- portrays Rodeo and all of its characters as cruel,heartless and abusive. Her depiction of the first owners of Rocky are cliche( from an old 60's movie) and not in any way correct to the way Rodeo is run today. That being said I know Ms. Oldfield needed a 'bad guy' for her story to work.
The second problem I have with the story line is twofold. First that the horse is a stallion. Did Ms. Oldfield not want to explain about gelding? I've been around Rodeo my whole life and I don't remember ever seeing too many stallions in the bucking horse string. And then Kirstie is allowed to purchase the stallion and begin to retrain him. I think that handling stallions is a touchy and often misunderstood activity. Contrary to some myth, handling most stallions is not an occupation for most thirteen year-olds.(no matter what they say on Craig's list posts!). A better story line might have been the activity of actually gelding the horse to make him a better member of horsey society. What better way to promote good horsemanship and breeding practices in the youngsters that will be growing up to take our places in the future horse world?
The last few things wrong with this story might be minor- but Kirstie turns this wild stallion out in a pasture of other horses, and one gets hurt. Instead of using that as a lesson, she just blythly goes about her business with an 'oh well". Then Kirstie tacks up and rides this former wild stallion out in the hills, no explanation about corrective training or ground work. She just hops aboard and rides.
Now y'all might be saying ' Now look Vaquero Girl, don't be so harsh on Ol' Ms. Oldfield!"
you might be right- I am being a little harsh, but as a writer and a horse owner and a former riding instructor, I take these little things very much to heart. A million girls ( and boys) read these words. Most kids take as gospel what they read- they haven't learned any better. I am sure Ms. Oldfield didn't mean to give wrong impressions- but in fact she has. As a writer one needs to be a bit more responsible about the facts.
So despite the engaging character, and the lovely setting, I would NOT recommend this book.
Next review- a really GREAT story for middle grade readers. Stay tuned!

3 comments:

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I'm with you!!! I read some of the other reviews that bloggers have been giving this book, they all acknowledge the "mistakes" the writer makes but then say it's a wonderful little book. Not so much, in my opinion. I get pretty sick of all the stupid "horsey" books out there. If you have to use outdated methods and incorrect information to write your book, it probably wasn't worth writing in the first place.
Thanks for calling this one like it was!!

Meg said...

I totally agree, I just got through reviewing this one also...now I need to post it!

Hope you are well!

OneCowgirl said...

I love all the old photographs on your blog!