A Horse Named Sky

HarperCollins/Greenwillow. (Voice of the Wilderness). Aug. 2023. 272p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062995957.
Gr 3-7–Sky isn’t a big horse, but he is fast. Readers meet him as a newborn, experiencing the world from his eyes, and are treated to his wonderment, as well as the challenges of living in the wild. There are big expectations of even the youngest horses. Because Sky is a foal, he knows he will one day have to either fight his father or leave his family, since there can only be one male horse in a family band. A drought makes that day come sooner than he’d like, and he sets out on his own so he is not draining limited water, leaving behind his band and best friend Storm. He’s overjoyed to find that Storm has left the band to join him, but the two are soon captured and groomed to become horses on the Pony Express. Parry has created an entirely convincing setting in which humans are secondary to animals. Imaginative descriptions keep readers guessing the horse interpretation of human vocabulary. Sky’s puzzlement over human behavior is sometimes poignant, and sometimes humorous. He’s stunned to learn they can speak, and is advised not to try to confuse them, as their capacity to understand is limited. Parry’s portrayal of the dynamics between domesticated horses and wild horses is compelling. Those born in captivity believe themselves to be superior to those born in the wild. Despite plentiful water and food, Sky never loses his determination to escape. This standalone companion to A Wolf Called Wander and A Whale in the Wild offers readers a unique perspective of the development of the American West. Frequent soft black-and-white illustrations enhance Parry’s poetic prose.
VERDICT This compelling novel has wide appeal and readers need not be horse or animal lovers to appreciate its heartfelt message of family and freedom.

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