Set in Nova Scotia in the early 1800s, The Island Horse by Susan Hughes is a great book for readers about the same age as Ellie, the book's main character. She's almost 10 years old. Sometimes she behaves like she's much older, and makes her father proud of her. Other times she's just a kid who needs her dad to cradle her in his arms.
Ellie is still adjusting to the death of her mother when her father delivers shattering news. He has taken a job on remote Sable Island, a barren, windswept scrap of land where ships often founder on the rocks. Ellie's dad's new job is to help save sailors cast into the sea when their ships wreck.
Soon after they arrive on Sable Island, Ellie meets a girl about her age, but she doesn't trust her. When she's finished with her chores, Ellie explores the island on her own. That's how she meets the island stallion and his band of mares and foals.? Before long, Ellie realizes she may lose her new four-legged friend if she doesn't act fast . . . but she will need the help of Sarah, the young girl she has treated badly so far.
Susan Hughes admits to a lifelong love affair with Sable Island and its wild horses.? Ellie and her father and the other characters in the book are fiction, but the island is very real. Today the lifesaving stations are long gone, and no one lives on the island. In fact, no one can visit the island without permission, and the horses are protected by the Canadian government.
The Island Horse, 160 pages with slightly oversized type, is suitable for readers seven to 10 years old (grades 2-5).? Order it from Kids Can Press for $16.95 plus shipping.