I know what it’s like to read a book on horseback – at least, that’s what reading Lauren St John’s latest middle grade novel feels like!
Finding Wonder is a thrilling adventure about daring horse thefts and opening up to life after tragedy strikes – something child protagonist Roo Thorn knows only too well.
The book begins just as Roo’s father passes away unexpectedly. Already motherless, Roo is now an orphan, with no option but to go and live with her free-spirited aunt Joni who is practically a stranger to her.
But there is a glimmer of hope for Roo when she uncovers the winning lottery ticket her Father unknowingly left her. Coupled with his letter to Roo to “Grab life by the wings and fly!” Roo decides to go after her dream horse Wonder Boy.
But just when Roo is on the cusp of buying Wonder Boy, the champion showjumper is stolen in a daring robbery, one that will lead to six more mind-boggling horse thefts and a growing mystery that will bring Roo and Joni together. As they join forces to rescue the horses and fight the unfair prejudices they encounter along the way, Roo and Joni’s relationship deepens. They each have something the other needs. Joni needs Roo’s stability and Roo needs Joni’s courage and adventurous spirit to truly grab life by the wings and fly.
I was blown away by St John’s skill at conveying the love, care and respect Roo has for the the horses in this novel, and the loving bonds these same horses share with their riders. They are characters in their own right, each with distinct talents and temperaments. Internal illustrations of the seven stolen horses by Marie-Alice Harel captures the essence of these beautiful creatures, surrounded by the nature the author skilfully brings to life with words. The cover, by Levi Pinfold, shows us the glorious nature and skycapes of this novel and the beautiful bond between horse and rider.
A truly sweeping adventure of a book, packed with mystery, peril and heart – perfect for animal lovers and budding sleuths!