Monday, June 3, 2019

Review - Margaret Ziegler is Horse-Crazy

Margaret Ziegler is Horse-Crazy
by Crescent Dragonwagon
illustrated by Peter Elwell
Date: 1988
Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: Open Library

Margaret isn't just crazy about horses--she's obsessed with them. And when she goes to summer riding camp, she knows she'll be the best rider there with the best horse. But Margaret's dreams don't come true, and she must adopt a realistic solution to her riding dilemma.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I was never a horse-crazy girl. But I knew some. There was the classmate who used to gallop around the schoolyard with her ponytail streaming out behind her (with other "horses" running behind her, if she could convince them to play). There was the summer when all the little girls in the neighbourhood that I babysat went to horse camp, and I had to listen to all sorts of talk about currycombs and proper horse grooming (zzzzzz...). Even if I had been horse-crazy at one point, that probably would've been quashed by my first horse-riding experience at summer camp. Similar to what happens to Margaret in this book, the damn thing stepped on my foot. (The second year, I got a horse that stopped every time it needed to pee, causing me to fall behind everyone else during the trail ride. I think maybe that horse had a UTI...)

I found Margaret's reaction fairly realistic. As it turns out, she's more in love with the idea of horses. When faced with Oleo, the fat, stubborn horse she's paired with (presumably because the horses were assigned by alphabetical order and Margaret Ziegler was dead last), her obsession evaporates pretty quickly. And it certainly doesn't help when the creature steps on her foot before she can even climb onto his back.

The rest of the story is pretty much about problem solving. Margaret doesn't want to give up riding camp completely, but she figures maybe she'll do it for a few days a week rather than every day. To me, this seemed like she didn't really want to do it at all, but felt she had to (probably because her parents had already signed her up and paid the fees). There is a good message about getting back on the horse, but I'm not really sure if the message about sticking with something you've realized is not for you--especially when it has the potential to cause bodily injury--is a great one.

I don't mind the illustrations, but I'm not sure how well the black-and-white drawings will go over with kids. At this point, I'm more used to colour in children's books (and if there isn't colour, there needs to be a good reason for that).

Overall, this is a mostly forgettable book. I could relate to Margaret's experience a little too much, though. (Thank goodness that horse didn't seriously injure my foot! I would've been really annoyed if I'd had to miss the rest of the non-horse parts of camp.)

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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