The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell

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The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The horses might communicate with each other in English but they think and act like wild horses. Man is the enemy in this pacey story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: March 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007425204

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When Bel Bel's foal was born she called him Thowra, which meant 'wind'. Like her he was a creamy, silver brumby. They're the wild horses of Southern Australia and Bel Bel knew that her foal would not have an easy life. As a stallion he would have to fight to keep his own herd of mares and foals but his main enemy would be man. The brumbies were regularly captured and herded away but the creamy, silver brumbies were the biggest prizes of all. 'The Silver Brumby' is Thowra's story as he matures from young foal to adult stallion.

This isn't the story of how Thowra learned to adjust to saddle and bridle and accept being ridden. It's the story of a wild horse with no punches pulled. There can only be one stallion in charge of herd and as a horse ages he will be challenged by the younger stallions – and it will be a fight to the death. Thowra's sire, Yarraman, is an early casualty, when he has to fight The Brolga, but there's also animosity between some of the younger stallions. Thowra has to pick his time before he has to fight Arrow – Thowra is nimble and clever, but Arrow is heavier and mean.

The story is set in the wild country around the Crackenback River. There are a couple of huts but otherwise this is an area where man has failed to leave his mark. The sounds are the river cascading and the horses trumpeting, but it's the weather which rules what happens and when. Snow storms are regular and vicious but often welcome to Thowra as he becomes virtually invisible in a storm. But the other side of the snow is the difficulty of finding grass, not just for himself, but for his mares and foals.

For the purposes of the story the horses communicate with each other in English but they're not humanised. Their thoughts, reactions and intentions are those of the wild horse intent on ensuring survival. The soft-hearted (like me) may well shed a few tears at the death of a horse, but there's nothing unnecessarily gory or violent – and this is the way of the wild.

The writing is good and very descriptive. You'll feel that you're out there with the horses and there are occasions when the suspense is such that you'll be on the edge of your seat. Horse books for younger readers seem to be primarily aimed at girls – but this one will satisfy either girl or boy. The Silver Brumby was fist published in 1958 - but it certainly doesn't feel at all dated.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Chancey isn't a wild horse, but if The Silver Brumby appeals you'll probably enjoy Chancey.

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Buy The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell at


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