Autumn 2009 Kids' Indie Next List
“Abby Lovitt already has a lot of horse sense at 12 years old. She's been riding horses for her daddy, who buys them to train up and resell, boasting that 'even a little girl can ride them.' But Abby must also transfer those skills to dealing with the people around her. Jane Smiley maintains the level of sophistication and character development for which she is known in her adult fiction. I can't wait to put this book in the hands of horse lovers!”
— Janet Blevins, Knight Equestrian Books, Edgecomb, ME
A Pulitzer Prize winner makes her debut for young readers. Abby Lovitt has been riding horses for as long as she can remember, but Daddy hasn't let her name a single one. He calls all their geldings George and their mares Jewel and warns her not to get attached. The horses are there on the ranch to be sold, plain and simple. But with all the stress at school (the Big Four--Linda, Mary A., Mary N., Joan--have turned against her) and home (nothing feels right with her brother, Danny, gone), Abby can't help but seek comfort in the Georges and the Jewels, who greet her every day with soft nickers. Except for one: the horse who won't meet her gaze, the horse who bucks her off, the horse Daddy insists she ride and train. Abby knows not to cross her father, but she knows, too, that she can't get back on Ornery George. And suddenly the horses seem like no refuge at all. From Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley comes an emotionally charged and action-filled novel for young readers, set in the vibrant landscape of 1960s California horse country.
About the Author
Jane Smiley is the acclaimed author of many books for adults, including Private Life, Horse Heaven, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. Jane Smiley lives in Northern California, where she rides horses every chance she gets. Her second novel for young readers, A Good Horse, also features Abby Lovitt and her family's ranch.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 20, 2009:
"A lyrical meditation on horses, families, and the vicissitudes of peer relationships among girls."
Review, Booklist, September 15, 2009:
"[A] quiet, psychologically attuned youth debut."
Review, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY), October 3, 2009:
"'The Georges and the Jewels' is filled with fascinating details about the care and training of horses, and Abby is a refreshing heroine in today's snark-filled times."
Review, Chicago Sun-Times, October 18, 2009:
"Smiley’s intricate and sophisticated knowledge of horses shines throughout this book, making it a guaranteed winner for horse-loving youngsters."
Review, LATimes.com, September 27, 2009:
"I have never admired [Smiley's] writing as much as I do in the first of what promises to be a series of books for children...'The Georges and the Jewels' can easily take its place on the shelf along with the great horse stories of childhood."
Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October 2009:
"Readers...will be happy to mount up and ride along."