Monday, March 01, 2010

The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley

The Georges and the Jewels is set on a horse farm in California. Abby, a seventh-grader, lives on the farm with her parents, and misses her brother Danny, who left home to work for the local horse-shoer because he had a fight with his parents. Abby's parents' goal is to train and sell each horse within six months, so they try to stop Abby from becoming attached by naming all the geldings "George" and all the mares "Jewel." Abby does most of the work of caring for, riding, and training the horses. The author takes more time describing the horses than the people. Each horse has a different way they like doing things; for example, Ornery George does not like being bossed around. Even though her father doesn't want Abby to get attached to the horses, she does, and makes nicknames for each horse. At school, Abby makes friends with a new girl, Stella. Stella, out of a jealousy over a boy, causes trouble for a popular group of girls, and Abby ends up taking the blame. Abby struggles to clear her name at school and keep up with things at the farm.

This book was a little slow at the beginning, but after I got through a couple of chapters, I could hardly stop reading it. I don't usually read horse stories, so I really liked the sections at the beginning of each chapter that showed different pieces of tack and equipment along with their names. They helped me understand the vocabulary in the book. Abby is a good character because she has a mind of her own and even when she is blamed for the troubles at school, she doesn't get upset. I liked the ending of the book because Abby's parents decide that she can name the horses. Her mother says, "maybe when we name them, we're really seeing something in them that will help us train them the best way we can." This book is really about learning to recognize who people (and horses) really are.

Reviewer Age:11
Reviewer City, State and Country: Lake City, IA USA