Saturday, August 20, 2022

Cartoon Saturday- Ride On

Hicks, Faith Erin. Ride On
August 16th 2022 by First Second
E ARC provided by Netgalley

When Victoria starts riding at Edgewood Stables, having come from the fancier Waverly, Norrie tries to make her welcome and is irritated when she rebuffs her advances. Victoria just wants to ride, and due to previous experiences with a friend, doesn't want to get into a lot of drama about competitions and friendships. Norrie, who is good friends with Hazel and Sam, one of the few boys who comes to the stables, then decides to "shun" Victoria, who is fine with that. Later, when Victoria gets help with one of the horses from Hazel, she realizes that she might have been too hasty in her treatment of Norrie, and reaches out to her because they have a shared love of a vintage sci fi television program, Beyond the Galaxy. After an 18 year hiatus, the show is back, and the four kids are super excited about the new film. They watch old episodes, talk about costumes, and even go to a local Renaissance Faire when Victoria's sister works to film themselves acting with the Renaissance characters while in their BTG costumes. All of this makes Victoria realize that she has interests outside riding. When she was at Waverly, her best friend was Taylor, who was more able to afford classes and competitions, and even had her own horse. While Victoria enjoys riding, she doesn't want to focus on it to the exclusion of all else. When there is a small competition at Waverly, Norrie, Sam, Hazel and Victoria all have different demons they need to face during the competition. 
Strengths: This was an engaging graphic novel that is the perfect present for a middle grader readers who likes to ride, and also one that will show this world to the uninitiated. The illustrations of the stables, horses, and riding costumes will make these things much clearer to readers who have never been to a farm, much less in the saddle. I liked that Victoria had once been very enamored of the sport, but had backed off. The friend drama with Taylor is an absolutely prime middle grade topic, and the issue of personal identity is also crucial to this age group. My best friend in middle school was a huge fan of the original Star Trek, and I remember the 1979 motion picture being a HUGE deal! Victoria and Sam's family issues get a brief mention, so families of divorce and problems with toxic masculinity are also addressed. There's an easy to follow plot ARC, definable characters, and lots of fun. 
Weaknesses: I don't think that I would have wanted to be friends with Norrie, either! 
What I really think: Horses and horse riding will always have a small group of super fans, so I always try to add a book or two every year to the collection, although I no longer have any of the Jean Slaughter Doty titles that Hicks mentions in her afterword about her own experiences riding. I hope that part of the promotional tour for this book includes Hicks being able to ride a horse once again. I was never interested in riding, but I had a cousin who competed all through high school.
 Ms. Yingling

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