Monday, October 4, 2010


Since they pranced in King Solomon's stables, Arabian horses have captivated the imagination of man. Sonoma King continues a tradition of romance and fantasy that follow an ancient breed. This tale for young readers is reminiscent of Walter Farley's famous world of stakes races and a black stallion that runs like the wind. Illustrations and full color art, a female protagonist struggling with emerging adolescence, and intriguing details about Arabian horse racing make a familiar storyline welcome.

I recently had the chance to review a new book celebrating the majesty of the Arabian horse: Sonoma King. A short chapter book for young readers, Sonoma King has a familiar storyline: A youthful owner struggles to maintain her faith in a black colt of untapped talent that eventually develops into a competitive race horse. Of course, challenges and danger loom at every turn of the plot, but I won’t spoil it for you. Unfamiliar with Arabian horses? Allow me to introduce them before testing your literary knowledge of horse story classics for a chance to win a free copy of Sonoma King.

I have strong opinions about what I like in a horse. Top on my list? Intelligence, beauty, and a personable nature. Horses cost way too much to keep these days and I like mine to function under saddle and as living art. To that end, the Arabian horse is my hands down favorite breed.

It’s fascinating to consider the history of the Arabian—the oldest pure breed in the world. Arabians have danced across the desert since Biblical times and are the original war and race horse. Though spirited, Arabians have a deeply sensitive and intuitive spirit and lived closely with human beings from the beginning. Desert lore says the Bedouins even slept in tents with their horses.

My first Arabian—Sunfire—couldn’t have been a less appropriate mount for a ten-year-old girl. The neighbor’s green broke pasture pet, Sunny was naughty and spirited. I vividly remember my first ride on the seven-year-old gelding the day we brought him home. Sunny danced the length of our quarter mile driveway, his feet barely touching the earth, while I perched on his back, my stomach churning with fear...and absolute exhilaration. He was the opposite of my wicked Shetland pony, Sally, and the epitome of childhood fantasies birthed by reading classics like The Black Stallion. Though Sunny never slept in my room, he became a trusted best friend and soul mate who helped me navigate adolescence. I remain a huge fan of the breed today because of our relationship.

Today I have my own The Black, a metallic chestnut stallion who, despite his coloring, is still a fantasy come true. I can think of no better therapy then turning him loose for a good gallop. Like his ancestors before him, Eli is a drinker of the wind and, for me, the horse of a lifetime.

The following questions relate to these classic middle grade books: Black Beauty, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Misty of Chincoteague, The Black Stallion, and King of the Wind.

The first person (email me through my website: to correctly answer all ten questions will win a lovely hardback copy of Sonoma King. For everyone else, the book is available through Capital City Books ( for $20.95.

Which book’s author was handicapped and died at the young age of 57, only five months after the book was published?

Which books feature horse racing?

Which book is said to be the sixth best seller in the English language?

Which book(s) is/are based on a true story?

How many of the above books are authored by women?

What are the names of Black Beauty’s best horse friends?

Which books were made into movies?

Which stories begin, or are centered, on an island?

Which book was written to inspire humane treatment of horses?

Which book(s) became a series?


Heidiwriter said...

Sounds like a great book for kids! I've always admired Arabians--beautiful horses.

Peggy Frezon said...

Great contest Catherine. I know the answer to some, but I don't know them all. Of course, Justin Morgan Had a Horse was always my fav because I grew up in Vermont. (I don't think that info is giving any hints in your contest!)