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Children's Literature Reviews
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The boy on a black horse
Nancy Springer.
New York : Atheneum ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, 1994.
166 p. ; 22 cm.


Intrigued by the mysterious and angry Romany boy who joins her class, thirteen-year-old Gray finds that he shares her love of horses but harbors a dark secret.

Best Books:

YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1995 ; American Library Association; United States

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Upper Grade
Book Level 4.4
Accelerated Reader Points 5


Julie Corsaro (Booklist, Apr. 15, 1994 (Vol. 90, No. 16))
When her new classmate Chav, a Gypsy, recites an original poem about "the black horse of anger," middle-school equestrian Gray is enchanted. Later, spotting Chav and his younger brother and sister on a beautiful black stallion, Gray follows them to an abandoned farm and learns they are abused runaways. The story line requires considerable suspension of disbelief. Among other things, it seems that Chav's father has got away with beating his wife to death. Rather than the word Gypsy, Springer uses the term Rom, which is preferred by members of the group, and she confronts such negative stereotypes as the roaming thief, but her physical description of the youth ("His fierce dark eyes looked wild") is exotic. Still, the restrained writing style, true-to-life dialogue, and smooth integration of the first- and third-person narratives create a convincing portrait of an abused child: his inner turmoil, lack of self-worth, and tremendous anger, with its potential to erupt into violence. Category: Older Readers. 1994, Atheneum, $14.95. Gr. 6-9.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1994)
A mysterious Gypsy boy, Chav, who rides a black horse and exudes angst is befriended by Gray, who's still wracked by the loss of her entire family. Chav, new in school, intrigues Gray. While out riding, she discovers that he is camping out, in hiding, with his little brother and sister and the beautiful horse. Chav, who suffered serious abuse from his "gadjo" (white) father, has a deep antipathy to gadjo society. When the tykes get sick, Gray takes them to her aunt's home, where she lives. The kids settle in, but Chav goes off the deep end; Gray is able to track him on the black horse. Public hue and cry about Gypsies and about Chav's theft of a gun lend still more conflict. Critical readers may shy at some hard-to-swallow melodrama (e.g., how did Char and his sibs get into school without a last name or papers? And Gray's family died under conditions that are not only unbelievable but almost slapstick). Still, Springer knows her girls and horses, and both major and minor characters are real individuals. Everything a young, horse-crazy romantic could wish: a book 12- and 13-year-olds will pass around until it's in tatters. 1994, Atheneum, $14.95. © 1994 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.


Child abuse--Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.S76846 Bo 1994
92027158 [Fic]
0689318405 : $14.95 ($19.50 Can.)
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