Last weekend I went to the county horse show with my family. This may not sound very thrilling to a lot of you, but to me it was a step back into my childhood, and quite fun! While we were not around to see the jumping events, which are my favorite, it was still an enjoyable and unique way to spend the day.
While at the show, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I remember about showmanship and horses in general from my days as a horse-crazy girl. Although I never showed or had my own horse, I learned how to ride and took every opportunity to be around horses, as well as reading an abundance of books about horses. I’m not entirely sure when this phase started for me, but I know that throughout my elementary school years, I loved reading any books about horses that I could get my hands on.
Not surprisingly, there are an abundance of series aimed at young girls that revolve around various aspects of horses and horse ownership. One of my favorites is a series called Chestnut Hill by Lauren Brooke. While it is less well-known than Thoroughbred and The Saddle Club, it has many similar attributes, and is good for anyone who enjoys those. However, I got burnt out on Thoroughbred after a while (there are just so many of them, with many similar story arcs), and I outgrew The Saddle Club, but Chestnut Hill held my interest for a while longer.
Chestnut Hill is an exclusive girls boarding school in Virginia that emphasizes horsemanship. The first book in the series is called The New Class, and begins with the main characters moving into Chestnut Hill for their first year. The school contains grades 7-12, and while I did not quite finish the series, I believe it covers the girls’ entire time from start to finish at the school. The books are not all told from the same perspective; instead, they alternate between the four main characters: Dylan, Malory, Honey, and Lani. These girls come from very different backgrounds, and are not all as affluent as you would expect for girls at a fancy boarding school, but they quickly become friends and learn to tackle any obstacle thrown at them whether it comes in the form of schoolwork, a challenge with the horses, or drama from other girls on campus. They become fiercely loyal to one another, and display solid morals as they navigate middle and high school. The New Class does a good job of introducing the girls, horses, and setting. It quickly hooks anyone who is into horses, as well as containing a story good enough to hold the attention of even non-horse people.
I’ve thought about doing reviews of books for younger readers before, but I’ve pretty much stuck with YA or adult, partially because I’ve simply never been offered children’s books for review and because I just don’t spend that much time around children’s books which makes it difficult to determine what is good and effective. I couldn’t pass up the chance to return to Chestnut Hill though, especially after going to the horse show last weekend. If you have a younger reader in your life, I highly recommend Chestnut Hill regardless of whether she is horse crazy or not. This one is good for anyone in late elementary school through junior high, and possibly even some high schoolers depending on reading level and their interest in horses.
If you would like to learn more about Chestnut Hill or find something similar, check out the Chestnut Hill Goodreads page.
Do any of my readers have an interest in children’s books? Let me know! If I get a good response to this post, I might branch out and do more reviews of books for younger readers.