Wednesday, March 28, 2012
HORSE CAMP by Nicole Helget and Nate Leboutillier
Release date: May 8, 2012
Penny, Percy, and Pauly have been shipped off to Uncle Stretch's farm. The adventure was described as a fun summer at "horse camp," but the truth is quickly revealed.
Uncle Stretch has two elderly horses too old and grumpy to ride. Instead of a fun-filled adventure, they are put to work. Their days are filled with chores and exposure to the messy end of farm life.
Being the youngest, Pauly makes the best of the unpleasant situation because he doesn't really understand why the three siblings have been dumped there in the first place. He spends his time following closely on the heels of Percy and annoying him as much as possible.
Percy ends up moving out to the granary which gives him a bit of peace and quiet. When he's not busy with chores and preparing his chicken for the fair, he disappears for hours into his own imagination.
Penny is the most upset about their circumstances. She records her thoughts in a journal and writes letters to her parents hoping to make sense of what has happened to their family. Their father is a minister, and most of their lives they have lived as missionaries in distant places. He preaches about life according to the Bible which makes it difficult for Penny to understand why he would abandon his own children forcing them to live with a grumpy uncle. Her mother spent their time in the faraway villages providing medical care as a nurse. She is now in prison because she was distributing prescription drugs to sick villagers illegally.
Penny desperately tries to come to terms with her parents' choices and how their family has been torn apart. Her bitterness is clearly expressed in alternating chapters with her twin brother Percy telling his side of the story in the others. As Uncle Stretch shows them the ways of the farm and introduces them to his girlfriend Sheryl and her daughter June Bug, Penny and Percy begin to adapt to their new life and even learn to understand what true family love can look like.
Authors Nicole Helget and Nate Leboutillier use clever humor and childhood angst to entertain in this unusual story about three children trying to find their way in the crazy world of adult decisions and mistakes. HORSE CAMP proves that adults don't always make the best choices, and in some cases, would probably be better off if they took the lead from a younger generation.