by Becky Citra
Orca Book Publishers, 2011
ISBN 978-1-55469-345-0 (pb)
$9.95, 179 pp, ages 9 – 14

After the death of her mother, Thea and her dad find themselves constantly drifting from one small town to another in the Cariboo district of British Columbia. Trying to run away from their pain, they never stay long and so never have time for friendships. But then her father takes a job renovating a ranch. Here, Thea encounters an abused horse which she tries to rehabilitate. She stumbles upon an old story about the disappearance of a four-year-old girl who was never heard from again. She works with a local boy, Van, to find out what really happened. As they uncover that story and face some disturbing episodes, Thea starts to finally come to terms with her own losses.

Reading this first-person narrative, I became truly enthralled. Becky Citra’s thirty years’ experience of ranch life and horses shines as does her powerful writing. The descriptions engage the senses. The pacing will keep the targeted readers out of breath as they quickly turn the pages to find out what happens next. The characters are engaging and alive. And who does not have troubles that they wish they could run away from?

Classroom Connections: This well-structured mystery is a good choice for examining techniques such as foreshadowing in the “whodunit” genre as well as the many strategies used in reading such as predicting, asking questions, connecting the text to the world, visualizing the story, inferring from the clues gathered. Related topics include horses, family secrets and sibling rivalry.

Review by Mary Moroska.

This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2012 issue.

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