Out of the Valley of Horses

Pajama Pr. Apr. 2024. 224p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772783117.
Gr 3-7–A family escapes into the wilderness fearing a global pandemic. Siblings Honey and Rumi, along with their parents and grandmother, find themselves in a magical location with a herd of horses that accompany them for seven years until it is necessary for them to venture back out into the world. With the feeling of a classic escape story akin to “The Swiss Family Robinson” or “The Boxcar Children,” the family dynamics and connections to nature (particularly with horses), make this a novel that will sink into readers’ bones as they root for the family and worry as things start to unravel. Making do with what they find in nature and what they have brought, the family learns to survive in the Australian wilderness without any outside contact. Rumi and Honey are led to believe that no one outside their family might be alive, and if there are survivors they might be lawless. When Papa falls very ill the children, along with their horse companions, must brave the natural and magical boundaries that have kept them isolated in order to save his life in a gripping conclusion. This is a wonderful, unique family survival story with a majestic herd of horses who are not portrayed as wild animals, but as the wise creatures that they truly are.
VERDICT Orr’s latest will delight middle grade readers searching for escape and home simultaneously. Highly recommended for middle grade fiction collections.

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