Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 12 and up
# of Pages: 180 p.
RAC Book: Yes
Award Winner: Iowa Teen Award 2009-2010
Set in the 1940’s, Will lives on a ranch with his dad and twin brother, Denny. Will struggles with the fact that his twin has some mental development problems and when their mother died their father put Will in charge of Denny. Now that they are teenagers Will wants to participate in rodeos and get hired at a ranch that will let him do more than just look after his brother. He gets the idea to run away to a rodeo and get hired at a ranch afterward, but his brother follows him. Will struggles with the fact that he wants to leave his brother behind because he does love him, but he also wants to reach for his goals and that is not possible if Denny is around. As Denny surprises him by persistently following him to the rodeo he must decide if he really wants to run away from his home.
Will’s story is a story that anyone could identify with who has ever struggled with personal wishes and obligations to another person. Will does a lot of thinking about his situation and often feels torn as to what he should do. In the end, his actions to run away help him, his father, and Denny learn to look toward the future and not stay in the past. This might be a difficult story for students to get into, but once they start they will be able to identify with one of the characters in some way.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Level: 14 and up
# of Pages: 277 p.
RAC Book: yes
Iowa Teen Award 2008
In the year 1185, when the book begins, in England there are two brothers and a little girl who all live together in a castle. The two brothers, Will and Gavin, quarrel a lot as Gavin always tries to belittle Will in front of others. Ellie lost her parents at a young age and came to live with them until she is old enough to marry. She and Will get along really well, even though it is understood that someday she will marry Gavin. When Will gets old enough he is sent to go pick out a big war horse, but he finds a red horse that he falls in love with. Even though everyone makes fun of him he works tirelessly to groom and train the red horse, Hosanna, until everyone becomes enchanted with him.
When Will and Gavin are summonsed with their father to go to the king in order to fight in the Crusades, they leave Ellie and a few others in charge of the castle. The war is much more difficult than either of the boys could have imagined and the tension between them is often fierce. Both begin to wonder if they will ever return home. Hosanna manages to keep Will hopeful in times of great sadness. Meanwhile, Ellie is having problems of her own back home.
The first in this trilogy moves at a leisurely pace despite the many things that happen in it. The brothers change and grow a lot on their journey and become very different men than they had previously planned on becoming. The war is also told from the eyes of the Muslims, which provides an interesting way to humanize the other side. The author makes it very clear what the motives for both sides are and why it is near impossible for either side to give up. Hosanna is the tie between everyone in the story. The red horse seems to inspire great things and loyalty where there previously was no hope. A good story for those who like reading about war and life during this time period.