Review by Booklist Review
The first in the Horse Diaries series, this lively chapter book is set in Iceland around 1000 BCE, where the filly named Elska by the people tells of her life, from her birth in the short summer months to her fun with the herd, running and playing through the long, cold, dark winter, and then her pride as she grows bigger and works, circling around to gather up all the sheep. The setting is always a dynamic part of the novel, and there are photos and notes at the back about the Icelandic horse and its cultural significance. But there is a real story, too, as Elska bonds with a young girl and then is wrenched away. Sanderson's occasional, beautiful drawings add to the drama. A must for horse lovers, the cozy and exciting adventure will draw a wide audience.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Horn Book Review
(Primary) For kids who wonder what horses are really thinking, this new series gives it straight from the horse's mouth. Elska, a silver dapple Icelandic horse who lives in Iceland in 1000 BCE, tells her own story from her early summer birth to her separation from her mother to her attachment to human friend Amma and their eventual wrenching separation and dramatic reunion. Young horse devotees will love the horse's-eye view and will enjoy learning details about this unique breed. However, early chapter book readers may be overwhelmed by the plethora of Icelandic words and characters' names (and when Elska expects a foal of her own, inquisitive readers will wonder how that happened). In Bell's Star, author Hart is a little more straightforward and a lot more exciting. Bell's Star is a Morgan colt, born in Civil War-era Vermont. Like all Morgans, he is bred for farm work and hauling, and he longs for a place to run free of fences. When his owner Katie asks him to help carry a runaway slave to Canada, Bell's Star learns about freedom...and what it means to go home. Overly emotional and anthropomorphic for adult readers, this new series is perfect for the intended primary-grade horse-loving audience. Occasional black-and-white illustrations and long fact-filled appendices add much to both stories. [Review covers these titles: Horse Diaries: Elska and Horse Diaries: Bell's Star] From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Ever since that danged Lassie rescued Timmie from the well, readers have had to suffer foolish plots like this one. Hapka's first in the Horse Diaries series follows the well-worn path of other small-format jacketless hardcoversthe Dear America series and the likeonly with four feet instead of two. The filly Elska, raised in Iceland 1,000 years ago, forms a bond with a young human girl, Amma. The rugged, historical lifestyle is well-depicted, and the horse's viewpoint, though sentimentalized, is decently expressed. Sanderson's charcoal illustrations add some life to the slender story and help readers understand the unfamiliar setting. But of course Amma falls into danger, and of course Elska rescues heralone, without human intervention, because of her love for Amma. Certain children will love it, but thinking adults should be repelled by this maudlin and wholly baseless climax. Horses are prey animals. They run from danger. They do not jump into rivers, not even if they are the "bridges of Iceland." Probably harmless, definitely silly. (Fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.