Orca Soundings, $9.95

Tara’s sister died a year ago, on the day that Tara didn’t answer her phone when Hannah called. And Hannah stepped in front of a bus. Now Tara lives with the guilt of wondering if things would be different if she had been there when Hannah needed her most. Competing in slam poetry competitions is the only way Tara can keep her sister’s memory alive and deal with all the unanswered questions. But at some point, Tara is going to have to let Hannah rest in peace, and she will need to find a way to move on.
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“A novel that uses the beauty of poetry to tell a sad but familiar story…A well-organized, clearly written book that will [be] relat[able] to young adult readers…Recommended.” (Tri State YA Book Review Committee 2011/11/01)

“Tate captures Tara’s grief and guilt about her sister’s suicide…The lengthy passages of slam poetry make this novel an intriguing read. The novel will appeal particularly to those readers who have experienced grief because of a death in their family.” (Resource Links 2011/10/01)

“Detailed descriptions of the competitive slam poetry world are vivid and engaging.” (The Horn Book Guide 2012/05/01)

“An excellent addition to a hi-lo collection because readers will find the subject matter realistic and gripping.” (Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group 2011/11/14)

“Tate makes this book entertaining and accessible for its intended reader. It’s short and punchy and has a compelling protagonist. Tara is easy to relate to and sympathize with, and she is written in a believable way…Fallout has something of value to offer to most teen readers. Tate does an admirable job of dealing with the topic of childhood suicide and its devastating effects on family members. It is refreshing that this is not at all a story about a depressed teenager, but the story of a survivor. It deals very well with the subject of guilt and also with the emotional turmoil which suicide creates…Both the poetry and the poetry scene provide a lively and effective story which readers will enjoy. Recommended.” (CM Magazine 2011/09/30)

Razor’s Edge

Orca Sports, $9.95

Travis and his best friends Ryan and Jasper live for the thrill of watching their horses race. When a thief starts hacking off the tails of Standardbred horses stabled at Blackdown Park, suddenly the track isn’t such a great place to hang out. Things get even more unpleasant when a troubled girl comes between Travis and his friends. Travis has to make some tough choices, but how can he stand by his friends when he no longer trusts them?
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“As the tension mounts in the story, [Tate]…captures the excitement and uncertainty that can come along with dating someone new and unknown, and she mixes in vivid descriptions of scenes that involve a fight, a kiss, and a race…Razor’s Edge reads like a real life mystery…Highly recommended.” (CM Magazine 2010/01/22)

“A flawless teenage tale. There is no black, no white; just, as is the case in life, only shades of confusing and complicated grey wound around hearts and hormones Tate offers hope and sadness, not as a solution but as reality.” (The Globe and Mail 2009/12/07)

“The story is realistic and will appeal to reluctant readers.” (Tacoma School District #10 2012/08/08)

“One of the finest. This novel gets off to a quick start and doesn’t stop, exploring a number of complex issues along the way.” (Resource Links 2010/04/01)


Orca Sports, $9.95

Sixteen-year-old Spencer loves his job at the local racing stable, but when he becomes convinced that someone is drugging the racehorse Lord of the Flies, no one believes him. In an effort to find out who is behind a dangerous race-fixing scheme, he takes on some of the most unsavory members of the track community. By refusing to turn a blind eye, Spencer risks losing those he cares most about, including Em, the stableowner’s niece.

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“A story of intrigue, but it is also a realistic look at teen life including emotions, trials and trouble of the typical youth Highly recommended.” (CM Magazine 2009/03/06)”Once again, Nikki Tate has written an excellent horse novel. This, however, is much more that just a horse novel…It will appeal to all young adults who like a good mystery or a good horse story. Highly recommended.” (Resource Links 2009/06/01)

“The first words in this young adult novel are, ‘You’re fired!’ Who could resist reading the rest of the novel?…It’s a pleasure to read a horse book that is honest about the difficult behavior of horses…Great novel, well written, for kids who can’t get enough horse lore. Nikki Tate gives her readers what most people never see: the backside of the track. It’s a world of its own.” (The Baytown Sun 2010/02/06)

“With a good deal of suspense, this novel will capture the attentions of young readers who place following their passions above sitting in school…Readers will get caught up in Spencer’s search for the truth and his dilemma over playing it safe by keeping quiet, or following his conscience and risking both his job and passion.” (Booklist 2009/05/01)

“An intriguing and easily readable story that high school aged students will want to read…A great addition to your library.” (Resource Links 2009/04/01)

Double Take: Karen Brain’s Olympic Journey

Sono Nis Press, $12.95

Double Take is for young horse-lovers, biography fans, or simply anyone who loves an inspiring story.

From an early age, Canadian equestrian Karen Brain is determined to someday compete in the Olympics. Her first riding lessons aren’t terribly encouraging, but Karen is determined. Soon jumping over obstacles becomes her specialty literally and figuratively, as she struggles to get her own mount, the coaching she needs, and the funds to achieve her goals. Winning isn’t a problem, though. Karen’s hard work puts her at the top again and again. And then, one day, she falls. Her spine is shattered, and her doctors tell her she might never walk again, much less ride a horse. And jumping? Impossible.

Well, obstacles are this rider’s specialty. How much so readers will discover as they follow her challenging but ultimately triumphant course from hospital bed to Paralympic medal podium.

The story is expertly guided by the capable hands of Nikki Tate, author of many popular horse novels for young readers. Tate’s characteristically energetic prose plus many photos from the Brain family’s own collection beautifully convey Karen Brain’s zeal for her beloved horses and the work of riding them; her generous gratitude for the support of friends, family, and coaches; her joy and infectious enthusiasm; and, above all, her indomitable spirit.

Watch Karen Brain's Story on Veoh

The Racehorse (Behind the Scenes)

Fitzhenry and Whiteside, $12.95

Experienced horsewoman Nikki Tate takes the reader behind the scenes to examine the world of the racetrack.

Sections include:

  • The history of horse racing from chariots to chuckwagons;
  • An examination of the racing breeds from thoroughbreds to quarter horses;
  • The role of the trainers, grooms, farriers, track vets, pony riders, outriders, and paddock judges;
  • Care of a horse at the racetrack;
  • Horse equipment;
  • The jockey’s training;
  • What goes on in the racing office;
  • How to read the program;
  • How the starting gates work;
  • Drug use and cheating; and
  • A horse’s life after the racetrack.
  • An examination of horse racing from a history of the breeds developed for the sport, through training and caring for horses at the track, to the day of the race and beyond.
“A very thorough and very readable investigation of racehorses and horse racing.”
— The Globe and Mail
An attractive and informative book. . . Young people intrigued by horse racing, and especially those who have visited a racetrack, will find this a detailed, colorful account of what goes on behind the scenes.”
— Booklist“Clearly written and well-organized introduction to the world of the racehorse. . . The numerous color photographs are well chosen and complement this solidly researched, knowledgeable text.”
— School Library Journal

“Tate, an experienced horsewoman and novelist, has written a fine introduction to the racehorse, the sport of horse racing, and the many people involved in the sport. . . Almost every page includes one or more colour photographs that aptly illustrate the text.
Highly Recommended.
— CM Magazine

“The content is readily accessible, but it’s the vivid photographs that will catch the reader’s attention. Illustrations of horses in action, the equipment and tools of the trade, and some of the people who devote their lives to the racing life appear on almost every page of this book. . . (Tate’s) knowledge and obvious enthusiasm shine through on every colourful, fact-filled page.”
— Quill & Quire

“Lots of potential to inspire critical thinking among young scientists and animal lovers.”
— The Toronto Star

“Here is a book that horse-lovers will enjoy. . . I have already recommended this colorful, up-to-date hardcover to a couple of girls that love horses; I think it will be well-read at our school.”
— Lane Education Service District (5 out of 5 Stars)

Jo’s Journey

Orca Young Readers, $7.95

It’s 1862, and orphan Jo has made it from Carson City, Nevada, to San Francisco without anyone figuring out that she’s a girl in boys’ clothing. When she hears talk of gold strikes in the Cariboo, Jo and her friend Bart sign on for what turns out to be a journey far more difficult and dangerous than anything they experienced as Pony Express riders.
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“A straightforward adventure story [that] does a good job of portraying the difficulties involved in the trek to the gold fields. Recommended.” (CM Magazine 2006/11/

Jo’s Triumph

Orca Young Readers, $6.95

Flame quivered beneath me, ready to fly off the moment I asked.

“The mail’s been stopped one minute and twenty seconds,” Uncle Billy said. “That’s more than long enough.”

He slapped Flame on the rump and the horse leaped forward as if shot from a cannon. The sudden movement caught me off guard and for one horrible second I thought my career as a Pony Express rider was over before it started.

Disguised as a boy, Joselyn becomes Jo and joins the Pony Express.

In the late 1850s in and around Carson City, struggles between the Indians and the local whites are growing. During the struggles, Joselyn, a young orphan, meets Sarah Winnemucca, a Paiute girl who becomes her friend and gives her some valuable advice. When Joselyn takes that advice and escapes from the Carson City Home for Unfortunate Children, she has no idea that her boy’s disguise and her love for and expertise with horses will lead her straight to the Pony Express. Joselyn becomes Jo and turns to a life that demands all her inner strength and resources. Then the meanest man on the route learns her secret and uses it to extract a promise that kept or broken could mean death. 
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Grade 3-6–Joselyn Whyte daydreams about her life as it once was, before her parents died, and before her brothers dumped her in an orphanage on their way to the gold rush. She hatches a plan to escape, passes herself off as a boy named “Joe,” and gets a job as a rider for the Pony Express. The freedom and adventure prove exciting, yet the job is dangerous with Indians and settlers alike threatening the mail runs. A fellow rider discovers Jo’s secret and he blackmails her to help steal money from the mail, but she finds a way to circumvent his plan. After traveling many miles out of her way she becomes lost, but once she gets on the right track, she and her worn horse make it to safety and she is rewarded for her bravery. This fast-paced story features a large typeface with black-and-white line drawings and should appeal to elementary readers, as well as to older reluctant readers.
Alison Grant, West Bloomfield Township Public Library, MI
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