Reviewed by Alyssa Katanic

Set around the same time period of Anne of Green Gables, The Island Horse, by Susan Hughes, is a sweet story for readers ages 8-12, but its grammar style left me disappointed with the work as a whole.

Ellie, a wild horse loving girl of about nine years old, recently lost her mom to an illness. When her father finds employment as a rescuer on Sable Island (an area prone to shipwrecks), she must also face the loss of the only house she has ever known as home. If there could be any good in moving it would be that Sable Island is a home to wild horses, but Ellie is not sure that even wild horses can make up for having to leave her Nova Scotia home.

Susan Hughes does a great job of relating the heart of little Ellie, but the style in which she does so is not too far off from a “stream of consciousness” style of writing. Much of the book consists of sentence fragments, sentences beginning with conjunctions, and a slew of other grammar infringements that I am currently teaching my nine year old daughter to avoid at all costs. With a target reading level aimed at children who are just developing their own writing skills, this style is a huge negative for the book. Perhaps I am just a bit of a stickler, but our children need to have their minds full of the correct examples if we expect them to do well themselves.

Despite the great theme of Ellie’s growth through having to deal with so many losses and changes at her young age, I cannot fully put my heart behind the style of The Island Horse except to say that it is a great book to read aloud with the horse loving girls in your own life.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Alyssa is a wife and stay at home, homeschooling mother of five, with two boxers, two cats, a soft shelled turtle named after Bob the Builder, and 7 frogs (admittedly a homeschooling project gone froggy). In all her spare time, she loves to read and believes that there is no such thing as having too many books!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Susan Hughes. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.