The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg
|The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A bereaved young princess rears an orphaned foal and the two form an inseparable bond.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: May 2014|
|Publisher: Harper Collins|
|External links: Author's website|
The Princess and the Foal is a modern-day Arabian fairytale based on the true story of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan. The story focuses on her relationship with an orphaned foal that she receives as a birthday gift shortly after losing her mother in a tragic accident. She successfully hand-rears the foal and as a result, the two form a close bond. Haya grows up to become an accomplished young equestrienne with the goal of becoming the first ever female contestant in the prestigious King's Cup.
Gregg's love for horses shines through as we read about Haya and her foal Bree. Their relationship is tenderly written and it is easy for the reader to form an emotional connection with the pair. When Haya is sent away to boarding school in England and separated from her beloved Bree, we can empathise with the deep pain felt by girl and horse as they are wrenched apart. When Haya rides her horse, the two individuals merge into a single entity; one completely in tune with the other.
The book is rich in description and the settings are vividly depicted, whether a sumptuous palace, an imposing boarding school or a dusty stable yard. Gregg transports us by immersing our senses with the smells, textures, sounds and sights of Haya's world.
Haya is an independent, strong-willed character and her passion for life will appeal to young readers. However, from my perspective as a parent, there were times when I found Haya's behavior annoying. She has a tendency to let her own goals override the feelings of others, even if this means taking things that don't belong to her, or putting herself and others in danger. Rather than face any consequences for her bad behavior, Haya usually gets away with a mild rebuke and a smile from her benevolent father, much to the chagrin of her governess Frances. As a result, I ended up having quite a lot of sympathy for long-suffering Frances, even though I am quite sure that this was not the author's intention!
The Princess and the Foal seems to be aimed squarely at the female market with its pink cover featuring a sparkly tiara and flowers. This is a shame, because the story, despite having a female lead, could appeal equally to young male readers. There are plenty of strong male characters in the narrative and the tale of the bond between a horse and rider has universal appeal. I would also add a brief word of warning to parents of particularly sensitive children; the book does contain a hunting scene where a dog and falcon catch a wild hare and the dog snaps its neck. Parents should take this into consideration if they feel that this content may upset their child.
The Princess and the Foal is a beautiful and endearing story about the bond between a girl and her horse and will enchant and captivate children and parents alike. I would like to thank the publishers for my review copy.
If you enjoyed this book, then try Katy's Champion Pony by Victoria Eveleigh which contains similar themes.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg at Amazon.com.
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