Horse Trouble

Kristin Varner. First Second, $21.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-22588-7
Dark-haired, light-skinned, and freckled horse lover Kate Williams, 12, has always been “pudgy.” But the bi-weekly riding lessons she’s taken “at Millcreek Farm for just over four years” have served as her haven. Alongside teasing and bullies, crushes and new friendships this year at Cottonwood Junior High, Kate hits puberty milestones, all while grappling with self-consciousness about her body. As suggested by the title, there is lots of “horse trouble”—most of which results in Kate falling and picking herself back up as she prepares for “the most competitive show in the state.” Punctuating each of the 10 chapters with a different fall, Varner (Pink Magic Cupcake) doesn’t skirt Kate’s embarrassment, nor does she dwell on it; evenly paced scenes give equal emphasis to Kate’s misadventures and successes. Kate’s first-person narration imbues a matter-of-fact tone, matched by panels—sketched in blue pencil and digitally inked—that carefully detail expressive Kate’s ups, downs, and in-betweens. Equine terminology is defined throughout as horseback-riding helps Kate build confidence in this earnest graphic novel debut. Back matter features an author’s note describing her personal inspiration, photographs, cover sketches, and the artistic process. Ages 8–12. Agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Bookmark Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/23/2021
Release date: 10/12/2021
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-250-22587-0
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