Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Magdalen Nabb & illustrated by Julek Heller

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-531-06805-6
Publisher: Orchard

A lyrical fantasy about the transcendent power of the imagination. Irina's parents are grim, hard-working farmers, with no spark of affection or humor leavening the daily grind they expect her to share. Christmas is a joyless observance; at their instruction, even choosing her own present becomes a dreary chore. Then Irina spies the tattered figure of a horse in a junk- shop and—with the help of the blind owner—persuades her parents to let her have it. Tenderly, she cares for ``Bella,'' brushing and feeding her and treating the wounds that appear as she's cleaned. In the night, Irina's rewarded with a magical ride on Bella—now come to life and so large that Irina can no longer reach her back; but as the blind man has warned, the love-starved child's hunger for something that's all hers is doomed to disappointment—in time, Bella escapes to run with the wild horses. Irina has learned her lesson; when, months later, the mare returns to leave a new, injured foal, Irina resolves to care for it but to be prepared to let it go free. Told in spare, graceful language evoking an aura of mystery and meaning, illustrated with frequent, sensitive pencil drawings: a likable tale that would make an interesting prelude to George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind (1871). (Fiction. 8-12)