cover image The Escape

The Escape

Kathryn Lasky. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-545-39716-2

Inspired by Hernando Cortes's 1519 reintroduction of horses to the New World for the first time in several thousand years, this inventive novel launches the Horses of the Dawn series. Lasky (the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series) tells the story through the perspective of Estrella, a filly determined to find her bloodline's ancient home in the New World. Born on a ship sailed by Spaniards on a gold-seeking mission to Mexico, Estrella, her dam (mother), and several other horses are thrown overboard to lighten the vessel. As her mother sinks after a shark attack, a flash in her eyes reveals to Estrella her destiny to follow the scent of sweet grass and the image of a tiny, sprinting horse to lead her herd to freedom. A resonant mystical undercurrent marks the quest, which involves occasionally bloody clashes with animal predators and unscrupulous humans. Lasky successfully fuses fantasy and fact as she gives her equine characters credible emotional depth and underscores the tensions and disparity between Old and New World sensibilities. It's a haunting story of loss, self-discovery, survival, and homecoming. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (Jan.)