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Children's Fiction Law & Crime


by (author) Becky Citra

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Apr 2011
Law & Crime, Death & Dying, Horses
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2011
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2011
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Thea and her dad are always on the move, from one small Cariboo town to another, trying to leave behind the pain of Thea's mom's death. They never stay long enough in one place for Thea to make friends, but when her dad gets work renovating a guest ranch on Gumboot Lake, she dares to hope that their wandering days are over. At the ranch she makes friends with Van, a local boy, and works hard to build the trust of an abused horse named Renegade. When Thea unearths the decades-old story of a four-year-old girl who disappeared from the ranch and was never seen again, she enlists Van to help her solve the mystery. When some disturbing facts come to light, she finally starts to come to terms with the losses in her own life.

About the author

Becky Citra is the author of over twenty books for children, ranging from early chapter books to novels for young adults. She was an elementary schoolteacher for over twenty-five years and began writing for children in 1995. Becky’s books have been shortlisted for and won many awards, including the Red Cedar Award, the Diamond Willow, the Silver Birch and the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. She lives in Bridge Lake, British Columbia. For more information, visit

Becky Citra's profile page


  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Award nominee
  • Winner, SYRCA Diamond Willow
  • Short-listed, Arthur Ellis Award nominee
  • Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets

Excerpt: Missing (by (author) Becky Citra)

"I like being alone," I say. "Honestly. Groups just aren't my thing. It's actually fun not having friends."
   I don't know why I said that. It was supposed to be funny, but it sounds pathetic. Van's face is more transparent even than mine. He doesn't embarrass easily but he definitely looks annoyed.
   "I don't think sarcasm suits you," he says stiffly.
   I'm tired of talking about this. I stand up and stretch. "Have you ever seen Renegade?" I ask.
   "Who's Renegade?" says Van.
   "A horse," I say. "Come on."

Editorial Reviews

"A quick and engaging read. Readers who live with one parent, lost a parent, or feel like outsiders will especially be able to relate to the main character, Thea...Also, readers who are drawn to mysteries will find it interesting to try to put the pieces together of a crime that remained unsolved for more than fifty years. Young readers will appreciate the speed with which the plot develops, and the clearly—if briefly—drawn characters."


"The storyline's chilling recollections of sibling rivalry, and dramatic moments...should keep readers engrossed. The plot, which is established early, immediately draws the reader into the characters' lives, while the descriptions of Thea's observations and surroundings (especially those of the ranch owner's travel photography and Van's grandfather's realistic carved birds) captivate the senses...Recommended."

CM Magazine

"The novel provides just enough foreshadowing that readers will enjoy piecing together the mystery. The theme of fitting in and finding acceptance will resonate...Recommended."

Library Media Connection

"Citra's writing is solid, and Thea is strong and appealing."

Kirkus Reviews

"The mysery is engaging...and the story will appeal to reluctant readers, especially horse-loving girls."

Washington State Young Adult Review Group

"The intersection of Thea's mysterious past with a cold-case mystery she stumbles upon in her latest stay deep in the Cariboo wilderness is compellingly told in Thea's first-person narrative...The theme of finding yourself by letting yourself care for another is subtly and richly conveyed. Citra has written several books for the Orca Young Readers series; fans who are now older should flock to this gripping novel."


"The story is fast moving and compelling...The concurrent story line of Thea's maturing relationships with those around her add another layer of interest."

School Library Journal

"Missing succeeds in winning over hearts with a passion for horses. It is easy to connect with the main character, Thea, due to her curiosity and courage as she faces some of the typical problems of a teenage life. The book is an easy read, has a terrific plot, and comes together nicely because of its great presentation...It would be most appealing to middle school students. It is time, as Thea would say, to find a comfortable place to curl up with a good book."

Teen Reviewer for VOYA

"Citra's thirty years' experience of ranch life and horses shines as does her powerful writing. The descriptions engage the senses. The pacing will keep the targeted readers out of breath as they quickly turn the pages to find out what happens next. The characters are engaging and alive."

Canadian Teacher

"The action begins right away, and the tension is kept tight with hints and foreshadowing...The mystery thoughtfully leads readers through themes of guilt, jealousy and death...Missing is a considered and thoughtful novel for horse-lovers and non-horse-lovers alike."

Canadian Children's Book News

Librarian Reviews


When her Dad lands a job renovating a Cariboo guest ranch, Thea hopes that at last they can stay in one town for more than a few months. Reluctant to join in, she finds it hard to make friends until she starts riding the bus with Van. As she helps out in the lodge, Thea uncovers a strange disappearance from 60 years ago and she and Van decide to try to solve the mystery. In the meantime, Thea also works to gain the trust of Renegade, an abused horse. When Marion arrives from England she helps out with timely advice on horse training, and unexpectedly turns out to be connected to the mystery. Thea’s first ride on Renegade opens a connection with her father and they both begin to come to terms with the death of her mother.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2011-2012.


It’s been four years since Thea’s mother left her family for another man. Four years since her mother died. Four years since her father sold the ranch. But when her father gets a job at a new horse ranch, Thea allows herself to hope that just maybe they’ll start putting down roots. On the ranch, she discovers Renegade, an abused horse that’s been left behind, and decides to try and gain its trust. But when a woman arrives, all the way from England, Thea’s suspicions about the ranch’s dodgy history are raised. With the help of a boy named Van, Thea slowly pieces together the answer to a decades-old mystery.

The action begins right away, and the tension is kept tight with hints and foreshadowing. Thea’s voice shines best at the start and during the passages with Renegade, although it loses individuality when the writing focuses on the mystery. Renegade’s rehabilitation occurs somewhat too quickly, but is described with feeling and depth. And though it’s hard to believe that Thea, at 12 years of age, could win over a horse that has truly lost its trust in humankind, every step of the process is accurate. The mystery thoughtfully leads readers through themes of guilt, jealousy and death. The repercussions of Thea’s mother’s death, which Thea feels in her relationship with her father, makes for an almost parallel subplot. Missing is a considered and thoughtful novel for horse-lovers and non-horselovers alike.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2011. Volume 34 No. 3.

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