Review by Booklist Review
Though Victoria loves horses, getting riding time requires hours of labor at Waverly Stables to afford it, and she doesn't care enough about high-level competitions to devote so much time. Edgebrook might not be as fancy a facility, but she can ride without pressure there, and Edgebrook's -regulars--Hazel, Norrie, and Sam--offer her a different, more expansive kind of friendship than what she was getting from her horse-girl friends. Hicks has a keen eye for facial expressions and body language, which she uses to great effect here, making the emotional turns of the plot feel deeply grounded. And of course, there are plenty of affectionate and graceful portrayals of horses. Even if readers aren't obsessed with horses, Victoria's realization that she won't be able to sustain her passion at a competitive level will resonate, and it's refreshing to see that reality played out on the page. Hicks, with colors by Fitzpatrick, vividly renders Hazel, Sam, and Norrie, who enliven the story, and their shared love for a geeky sci-fi TV show helps Victoria find a new way to connect with peers. Stories about shifting friendships for the middle-grade set are common, but Hicks gives hers uncommon depth, thanks to multifaceted and distinctive characters, nuanced conversations about passion and privilege, and heartening emotional growth. A solid, well-wrought comic for fans of character-driven stories and, naturally, anyone obsessed with riding horses.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Strong characterizations and polished digital art distinguish Hicks's pleasurable graphic novel of building friendship through shared devotion. As summer ends, best friends Hazel and Norrie, along with laid-back Sam, the only boy rider at Edgewood Stables, are intrigued by the arrival of a skilled new rider, Victoria, to Edgewood. Droll, quiet Hazel recognizes Victoria from a schooling show at upscale Waverly Stables, prompting chatty Norrie to conclude that Victoria was sent to infiltrate Edgewood. Indifferent to Norrie's welcome ("I'm here to ride, that's it") and subsequent irritation and shunning, Victoria remains focused on training a young gelding while healing from a friendship breakup with a privileged and demanding Waverly rider. When the Edgewood trio discovers that Victoria shares their fondness for vintage sci-fi show Beyond the Galaxy, Victoria's iciness begins to thaw, and the riders bond while discovering strength in supporting each other. Featuring funny dialogue ("Let the shunning commence!") and Hicks's (Comics Will Break Your Heart) signature art--including sharply rendered horses in motion--this attentively layered, low-stakes graphic novel is told with an insider's understanding of both stable culture and fandom. Sam reads as Black, Norrie cues as South Asian, and Hazel and Victoria present as white. Ages 10--14. Agent: Bernadette Baker-Baughman, Victoria Sanders & Assoc. (Aug.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 5--8--After a fight with her best friend, Victoria leaves fancy Waverly Stables for lower key Edgewood, where her plan is to focus on riding, not friendship. She rebuffs unofficial assistant barn manager Norrie's warm welcome, infuriating Norrie, who tries to get her best friend Hazel and "the only boy," Sam, to shun Victoria too. But when Victoria discovers that all three of them are fans of an old sci-fi show called Beyond the Galaxy, she apologizes to Norrie and becomes friends with all three--and explains her behavior. Vic's ex-best friend Taylor gave her the cold shoulder when Victoria said she loved horses but no longer wanted to compete--partly because of the expense, which her family couldn't afford. Hicks uses flashbacks effectively to show what happened between Victoria and Taylor, as well as Victoria's parents' divorce. Secondary characters, including horse friends and siblings, are well developed with different personalities, interests, and problems of their own. The Edgewood friends support one another, and through good listening and wise advice, they make one another braver. There is also something romantic simmering between Victoria and Sam, but it's mostly eye contact and blushes. Norrie and Sam have brown skin and dark hair; Hazel and Victoria have light skin and freckles. Three to five panels per page, often horizontal to accommodate the horses, result in passages with excellent pacing. VERDICT A "perfect ride" of a graphic novel that shows that there really is something special about horse friends.--Jenny Arch
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Review by Horn Book Review
In this vivacious graphic novel by the author/illustrator of One Year at Ellsmere (rev. 7/20), horse-mad Norrie mistrusts the new rider at the stable, Victoria, because she previously rode at rival stable Waverly. For her part, Victoria reacts coldly to Norrie's "Edgewood Stables welcome," insisting she's there to ride, not make friends. The encouragement of Norrie's two other stable friends, Hazel and Sam, and a mutual love of the Beyond the Galaxy TV show lead to a detente, and the new foursome plans both to compete at a Waverly schooling show and to dress up as the show's characters for a fan event. Scenes alternating between home, school, and the barn keep the illustrated panels fresh and compelling, while the characters' physical vitality and charismatically drawn facial expressions elicit reader engagement as the friends face personal hurdles of the family, academic, and equestrian variety. The portrayal of stable life, its jealousies and dramas (including the brief mystery of why Victoria quit riding at Waverly), and the ride-or-die friendships forged there will be recognized by some readers and aspirational for others; inclusive characterization (Sam is the only boy but not the only person of color at the stable) makes all equestrians welcome. With snappy dialogue and spot-on pacing, the pages fly by, making this breezy read appealing to horse lovers, sci-fi-fandom aficionados, and those who live for excellent graphic novels alike. Anita L. Burkam November/December 2022 p.87(c) Copyright 2022. 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
The arrival of a new girl creates drama at a riding stable. Drama is the last thing Victoria needs: She arrives at Edgewood Stables from rival Waverly Stables following a blowup with former best friend Taylor that leaves her shaken. Taylor has her own horse and takes riding and showing very seriously. Victoria is a good rider, but she understands that her accountant mom will never be able to buy her a horse, and she wants to have time for other things, like watching her favorite science-fiction show, Beyond the Galaxy. Despite a rocky start at Edgewood, she develops friendships with the other middle schoolers in the barn: uber-extrovert Norrie, quiet Hazel, and Sam, who is the only boy. Her new friends are not only Beyond the Galaxy fans, they also help her regain her own confidence in herself and around horses. The story is told from both Victoria's and Norrie's points of view, with flashbacks to Victoria's friendship with Taylor. The emotional arc is realistic and finely developed, with the underlying message, emphasized by illustrations depicting riders with a broad range of skin tones and body types, that there are many ways to be a rider. Norrie is cued as South Asian; Sam reads as Black, and the other main characters appear White. The horses are well done, too. The clean, jewel-toned artwork is especially strong at portraying emotions through facial expressions and body language. Combines sensitive character exploration with horses: a blue-ribbon winner. (Graphic fiction. 9-14) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.