A Horse Called Starfire

By Betty D. Boegehold

I had a conversation at work the other day, telling my coworker about my blog and how hard it was to find materials for boys. “I feel bad,” I told him, “that my blog is primarily female-centric.” Because I am, in fact, a girl, using a lot of my own books as materials. “What about the authors?” He asked. “Are they primarily women too?”

I paused.

“I’m not sure.”

“Has it always been this way, traditionally? Have books always been targeted to women?”

His questions got me thinking about the demographics of the books on my blog, and I resolved to try harder to find materials that were written by men or for boys. I tried; really I did. And yet, I present to you A Horse Called Starfire. Umm, it has male secondary main characters?

The book is set in the early days of British North America, when Europeans were just starting to come over and explore, and the Native Americans were relatively isolated from the white man. A Horse Called Starfire tells the story of a golden horse, Estrella/Starfire, who crosses over from Spain. Her master dies in the New World and she is alone. Luckily, it isn’t long before she’s found by a Native American father-son duo, Lone Owl and Wolf Cub, who adopt her and take her to their village.

Not much to the story, really, but then, this book is designed to help young readers make the leap from picture books to real novels (quote/unquote). It’s a level 3, so the highest level of transitional novels. Interestingly, for such a high level, there are a lot of illustrations; every page, in fact. If pressed, I would say it reads more like a picture book with more pages and text. But the illustrations are beautiful, rendered in colour pencil. I remember liking this book as a child simply for the illustrations, which are almost breathtaking. Especially well-done are the background scenes.

This book is a tad outdated, especially for its Native American themes, with the father-son listening to the ground to tell them where the animals are, or Wolf Cub communicating with the spirit of the horse. You probably wouldn’t see much of that around nowadays, for better or for worse. Regardless, any little girl will love this book. What’s not to love, after all? It has beautiful illustrations, pretty ponies, and beautiful illustrations of ponies!

Boys might be a little disappointed.

Suggested reading age 6-9.

Minnie and Moo: Night of the Living Bed

By Denys Cazet

Minnie and Moo are a Levelled Readers (3) series for young readers growing in their reading ability

The story of Night of the Living Bed starts with Minnie having a nightmare that all the candy in the world has been eaten by a giant mouse. This sets off a chain of events that sends her and Moo’s bed hurtling down the hill, picking up a variety of other farm animals and sending them off the farm, down to the suburbs. Surprise, it’s Halloween night!

Honestly, I’m not sure why this book is ranked so high as a levelled reader. I found it every simplistic, especially compared to a few other levelled readers I’ve seen.

If you’re looking for a good Halloween Book for a children trying to increase his or her reading level, you could do worse then Minnie and Moo, but there are better ones out there.

Suggested Ages: 5-9

Cazet, D. (2004). Minnie and Moo: Night of the Living Bed. HarperCollins.

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