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Gabrielís Horses

by Hart, Alison


Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 9781561453986]

Book Review

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Gr 5–8—A story set in Kentucky horse country during the Civil War. Gabriel, 12, is a slave but dreams of becoming a famous jockey. His father, a free man married to a slave, is a trainer for Master Giles's stable of Thoroughbreds. When the man enlists in the Union Army to earn the money to buy his wife's freedom, Gabriel must adjust to a cruel new trainer. Although the war's impact in Kentucky is less dire than in other Southern states, marauding bands of Confederate raiders terrorize residents, seeking horses, food, and anything else they can steal. One Arm Dan's bunch raids Master Giles's farm, not for food, but for the horses that Gabriel is determined to protect. Outnumbered, his only choice is to take eight of the animals and run. Master Giles, a kind man, rewards the boy's cunning and bravery by granting him his freedom and a paid job as his top jockey. Characters talk about the many faces of freedom, from actual emancipation, to being allowed to learn reading and writing, to realizing the dream of working at what you love. More subtle signs of liberation are seen in the black freemen who call Giles "Mister" and the slaves who address him as "Master." The author grounds this fast-paced tale in historical fact by providing a nonfiction epilogue. Readers will find this wonderful blend of history and horses appealing.—Ann Robinson, Moultonborough Academy Library.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Syndetic Solutions - [Book Review for 1561453986]

Book Review

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BookList :

From BookList, May 15, 2007, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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On a Kentucky plantation during the Civil War, slave Gabriel Alexander, 12, cares for his master's Thoroughbredáracehorses and dreams of being a great jockey, just like his dad. After Pa enlists with the Yankees, the boy also yearns to be a soldier and fight for freedom. At the core of this stirring historical novel is the question of what freedom means. Runaway slaves and freemen join the Yankee army only to dig ditches and collect firewood for white soldiers. The boy's first-person, present-tense narrative brings close the thrilling horse racingûûon the plantation, at the race course, and in the warûûand the African American history in all its complexity. In this first entry in the planned Racing to Freedom trilogy, the cast is huge, with dozens of names on every pageûûfamily, plantation workers, horsesûûandáit would be helpful if theánext two books included a list of characters for readers' reference. Extensive historical notes and a bibliography close. Rochman, Hazel.

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