Starlight Christmas

by Bonnie Bryant
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

The Saddle Club series revolves around three girls who take riding lessons together at Pine Hollow Stables. Stevie (short for Stephanie) has three brothers (one older, one younger, one twin) and is generally a tomboy. Carole has been riding for years and is a horse-lover in the truest sense – she can communicate with them and focus on them in a way she can’t with other people and with the other parts of her life. She is an only child and her father is a Marine. Lisa is the newest rider, and through her the reader learns the basics. Lisa has one brother who is much older.

Personal Evaluation: I loved this series as a kid. I was unable to take riding lessons myself, so I fulfilled my own need for a girl-sized dose of horse with these books. One thing I really liked was all the horse facts that are sprinkled throughout every book; I was always learning something. In addition to all the drama at the stables and the adventures the three best friends go on, there are also good accounts of their riding lessons, so it really was almost like being there.

What might interest children: For readers who have been following the characters, Carole finally gets a horse of her own, which is a sort of vicarious victory. The storylines are kind of moralistic but not in a preachy way. I think kids (mostly girls, probably) will also like all the facts and the way the girls navigate their friendships with each other. There are three very distinct personalities, so chances are a reader will identify with one of them. (These books are great for probably 3rd-5th grades.)

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