I read Horse Dreams aloud to my 7, 5, and 3 year old girls who like horses. I liked how the book talked about prayer and how God sometimes answers our prayers in ways we don't expect. The story was a bit slow and the writing was just so-so. The characters really weren't too interesting_pretty flat actually. This is not a great work of fiction, but it was a sweet story.
Backyard Horses is a sweet chapter book that elementary-age girls are sure to enjoy! I remember so desperately wanting a horse when I was that ageâ€”and we lived in the suburbs, so it definitely wasn't an option! I loved that Ellie begged and cried and finally realized that she needed to ask God to provide what she wanted. And then when she got it, she didn't even recognize it _ because the gift wasn't as she expected it to be. Such a lesson for usâ€”even as adultsâ€”and one I'm learning over and over. Dandi Daley Mackall is a talented writer, and I wholeheartedly recommend Backyard Horses.
I'm always looking for chapter books for my children but I'm tired of fairies, witches, and books with disrespectful children. I really loved this book and can't wait for my kids to read it! Fourth-grader Ellie loves horses and has prayed for 6 or 7 years to own a black stallion. Since she's only in 4th grade, that's almost her whole lifetime! I really liked how Ellie prayed to God about everything, like she was having a conversation with Him, checking in with Him. It showed that God is relevant, even to young children. Ellie learns a hard lesson---that God does not always give you what you want, but He'll always give you what you need---something even we adults need to learn. I didn't expect the book to be so funny; Ellie's parents were hilarious, some of the expressions her mother said made me laugh. I can't wait to share this with my kids. The only thing I'd point out to my kids is to not walk anywhere alone like Ellie did in the book; she left the horseshow, went to see her pinto, and then walked home all by herself. By that time, it was dark, too. Maybe that's okay in a town like hers but I'd just want my kids to know they should not do that. Other than that, I'd recommend this book to kids and adults.
"Backyard Horses" by Dandi Daley Mackall is the first book in her "Horse Dreams" series for middle-elementary-aged children (probably most appealing to girls). Ellie James, the main character, is ten-years-old and in the fourth grade. Her younger brother, Ethan, is deaf, so she and her best friend, Colt, have both learned sign language in order to communicate more easily with him. This also allows them to send secret messages to each other in public places, such as in their classroom at school.
Ellie loves to daydream. She also loves horses. Her favorite daydream is about owning a horse, a Hamilton Royal Champion Horse. Some of the other girls at school have their very own perfect show horses, but Ellie is still waiting and praying for hers. Begging her parents and crying to them haven't brought this horse into being, so now she's trying prayer. "Backyard Horses" tells us what comes of that.
I enjoyed reading this clever story and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to parents looking for good books for their children to read. Positives: Though there's a mean girl in the story, Ellie and Colt both handle her with patience and grace. When adults in the story make mistakes, Ellie is respectful and polite, yet stands up for what is right in creative ways. Ellie's relationship with her family, best friend, and school teacher are all quite sweet. Best of all, Ellie learns some significant lessons about God's nature and prayer. The message of 1 Samuel 16:7 is the subtle theme of the book.
This book reminded me of the many, many horse books I read myself when I was a child. Like me, Ellie dreams of having her own horse. She is so "horse crazy" that she even decides to make horses the basis of her science project. She will determine the best way to get a horse - begging, crying or praying.
Ellie also has a bit of a problem with daydreaming - especially about her dream horse, a black stallion that she will ride in horse shows. Then one day Ellie sees a real horse outside her classroom window. But the horse disappears before anyone else can catch sight of her and now the teacher thinks Ellie has gone beyond daydreams to delusions.
The book is rounded out with a nice cast of characters that make up Ellie's friends and family. She has a brother who is deaf, a pleasantly eccentric mother and a father who writes advertising jingles and has a bit of a phobia about meetings with the principal. Her best friend is a boy who isn't sure he wants the world to know that they're friends anymore. Her rival owns a magnificent show horse but doesn't appreciate her blessings.
The book includes a glossary of horse terms and a sign language alphabet.