March 2013, Curious Fox, 144 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Themes: overprotective parents, feeling grumpy, finding a new talent, caring for animals, escaping guinea pig, evil health and safety fanatic,
Summary from Curious Fox
Zoe was the fastest runner in her school… until an accident crushed her hopes for the Olympics. Can a friendship with a retired racehorse at City Farm help her find a new dream?
I was certain from the cover that this would be a fun read, filled with animal mayhem, some aww moments, and Zoe undergoing important changes. I was right! I love the relationships with the animals that both Zoe and her friends had because they were each besotted with a specific one, which made me smile loads because I'm an animal lover too. I like how the realities of caring for pets -including cleaning them out which is necessary if a bit icky - are explored through what happens on a typical farm day.
I love the concept that children like Zoe can go to the farm for a kind of therapy. I actually expected Zoe to be at the farm 24/7 for a week or 2, so was surprised when it was only at weekends and after school. However, Zoe blossomed at the farm. I could easily relate to her frustration at not being able to do certain tasks that she could do so easily before the accident, as the ups and downs in my own health have meant some things won't be done again. The big turning point for Zoe is attitude. At the farm she is seen as normal - how I hate this word! She is expected to muck in (she does try doing this literally), she isn't pampered which is what happens at home. She learns the hard way that yes her original dreams may be out of reach (like mine of being in the armed forces), but she can make new ones, which give her so much hope and enthusiasm that I nearly cried with delight. This is an awesome new to me series - I've got 2 more to read and review!
For another story where animals are healing check out a book in a favourite series of mine by Jo Cotteril, Sweet Hearts: Model Behaviour (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E)