- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

By London Orcurto, age 13

Home-schooled, Bowie

Imagine a wild filly is trapped underneath your crashed school bus. What would you do? Plus, you are in the thick of a snowstorm with no adult assistance. How would you take it?

In “Phantom Stallion Wild Horse Island No. 1: The Horse Charmer,” by Terri Farley, Darby Carter finds herself in the middle of this very situation. By making a brave choice, she saves more than just herself.

A young eighth-grader, Darby Carter adores horses. After rescuing a wild filly from a dramatic accident, Darby has custody of the horse. When an invitation arrives for her to visit her grandfather in Hawaii on his ranch, she accepts under the condition that her new horse goes as well.

Darby flies out of Los Angeles and is greeted in Hawaii by one of her grandfather’s ranch hands; soon they are on their way. When her horse is being unloaded, it causes injuries to two persons; Darby has a feeling they may be off to a bad start.

Darby soon learns that training a wild horse takes much longer than she thought, and her new filly, Hoku, may never turn out to be the dream pony she wanted.

Toward the end of the book, Hoku runs away, which starts Darby worrying. She and her cousin set out to look for her. Darby soon discovers that her filly is trapped on the beach in great distress.

Ignoring her cousin’s warnings, Darby finds a way down to her filly and has to coax Hoku through shark-infested waters to reach safety. I definitely enjoyed this part of the story the most during my reading of “Phantom Stallion.”

“Phantom Stallion Wild Horse Island No 1: The Horse Charmer” is an enjoyable novel. In my opinion, this book is best for the intermediate reader because it has an undemanding plot. A horse lover would find this book worthwhile.

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