Her first novel, Dancer, continues to be a Canadian bestseller and now Shelley Peterson brings you her eagerly-awaited second novel, Abby Malone. Abby is a young teenager striving to make things work out right. Animals -- a coyote, twin baby raccoons, a speedy bay mare named Moonlight Sonata -- are things she can handle, but the human world is a more confusing and dangerous place.
Abby Malone sits at her desk in a sweltering classroom in June and daydreams about the beautiful mare across the road. Before we know it, she's out the window, 'borrowing' the mare and rounding up the neighbour's escaped cows, adding another black mark to her record of bad behaviour at school.
Things are not easy at home: an alcoholic mother and an incarcerated father add to her ever-present fear of eviction, yet Abby doggedly tries to make the best of every situation. 'All my problems are with humans,' she tells her raccoons.
But not all humans are bad; Pete and Laura Pierson, the elderly farm couple who live beside the school, give her assistance, encouragement and support while Abby tackles a mystery, falls in love, and competes in a perilous steeplechase. This is a fast-paced story that takes the reader on an unforgettable journey of heartache and personal triumph.
'Obviously an animal-lover, Peterson writes with warmth and understanding of animals and their emotions and of those who are able to respond to them. In doing so, she has designed a compelling and suspenseful story that is difficult to set aside once it is begun. And in her title character, Abby Malone, Peterson has fashioned a bewitching young girl whose intelligence and resilience do justice to this tautly woven tale. ...
'Sprightly Abby Malone has a charm reminiscent of L.M. Montgomery's young girls, of such intrepid problem-solvers as Jane of Lantern Hill and Sara Stanley of The Story Girl and The Golden Road. She combines an adventurous spirit with sensitivity, common sense and a good degree of feisty courage. Abby is a memorable character, well drawn by Peterson, whose knowledge of young people and animals is noteworthy.'
'Abby Malone is a very likeable main character in very challenging circumstances, but occasionally displays human weaknesses that make her more believable. She lives in a world of both peers and adults all too willing to put her down. She is so likeable that naturally she does have at least one good friend her own age and attracts the protection of some kindly older adults. Not only are horses key characters, but so also is a coyote and to a lesser degree other animals.'
'...This is a story that will inspire any reader, young or not, and would make a great gift or prize.'
'Former Londoner Shelley Peterson is a writer of exceptional talent.'
'Abby Malone has a favourite dream in which she pictures herself on a beautiful little mare, winning the local Caledon steeplechase competition and being congratulated by her idol. In reality though, Abby's life couldn't be worse. Her father is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, her family is out of money, and her mother has taken to drink. But Abby is not alone; with the caring attention of her elderly neighbours and her faithful pet coyote, she bravely faces life. Abby doggedly overcomes all obstacles, not only achieving her dream but reversing the family fortunes as well ...
'As in her first novel, Dancer (1996), Shelley Peterson tells a horse story and skilfully mixes elements of mystery, suspense, romance and family drama to create an exciting read. Although there is no doubt that there will be a happy ending, it is fun to find out how Abby will manage it. Young-adult readers will relate to Abby's passion as well as to her frustration with authority and the injustice that she experiences.
'... Abby Malone is written in the style of classic children's stories, with ... old-fashioned charm [that] is both endearing and enduring. This well-produced book is a ''must-have'' for all school and library collections. Highly recommended.'