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Rebel of Dark Creek

by Nikki Tate

Ever since Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, and the Bobbsey Twins, young readers have loved series books. Rebel of Dark Creek is the first in a series called Stablemates about a girl named Jessa and her horse. In this book, Jessa, who takes riding lessons, is on a quest for a horse of her own. She knows that her single mom can’t afford to buy a horse, let alone pay to have it boarded at a stable. But her mom, who is studying to be an accountant, has a plan: to trade accounting services for a horse. Before long, Jessa has found a pony named Rebel, from Dark Creek Stables, some new friends, and a lot more self-confidence. Despite a few setbacks, including an injury from another horse, Jessa enters a local competition and does herself, her mom, and Rebel proud.

This fast-paced story will be a hit with preteen girls who have horse fever. It’s full of details about training, grooming, tack, mucking out stables, and even rider fashions. The plot has plenty of twists and turns, with even a cute boy to keep matters interesting. And the competition at the end is full of tension as Jessa tries to hold her own in the midst of other, more experienced riders. Jessa and her best friend, Cheryl, are well-drawn, likable characters. Some other characters, such as the little rich girl Rachel and the aforementioned cute boy, Jeremy, are more one-dimensional but they are secondary characters, after all.

The enthusiasm of Vancouver Island author Nikki Tate, who has been riding horses since she was very young, is contagious; the reader is quickly caught up in the story. The world of characters she creates in Rebel of Dark Creek is solid; readers will care about what happens to Jessa in future books. The second book in the series, Team Trouble at Dark Creek, advertised at the end of this book, looks to be full of drama and adventure. Readers are also given the web site for the Dark Creek series (http://www. seeknet.com/rebel.htm).