Horses of Oak Valley Ranch series by Jane Smiley
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Overview: An equestrian YA series set in 1960s California centered around 12-year-old Abby Lovitt.
Genre: Horses, Young Adult, Fiction
The Georges and the Jewels (Horses of Oak Valley Ranch #1)
Jane Smiley makes her debut for young readers in this stirring novel set on a California horse ranch in the 1960s. Seventh-grader Abby Lovitt has always been more at ease with horses than with people. Her father insists they call all the mares “Jewel” and all the geldings “George” and warns Abby not to get attached: the horses are there to be sold. But with all the stress at school (the Big Four have turned against Abby and her friends) and home (her brother Danny is gone—for good, it seems—and now Daddy won’t speak his name), Abby seeks refuge with the Georges and the Jewels. But there’s one gelding on her family’s farm that gives her no end of trouble: the horse who won’t meet her gaze, the horse who bucks her right off every chance he gets, the horse her father makes her ride and train, every day. She calls him the Ornery George.
A Good Horse (Horses of Oak Valley Ranch #2)
When eighth grader Abby Lovitt looks out at those pure-gold rolling hills, she knows there’s no place she’d rather be than her family’s ranch—even with all the hard work of tending to nine horses. But some chores are no work at all, like grooming young Jack. At eight months, his rough foal coat has shed out, leaving a smooth, rich silk, like chocolate. As for Black George, such a good horse, it turns out he’s a natural jumper. When he and Abby clear four feet easy as pie, heads start to turn at the ring—buyers’ heads—and Abby knows Daddy won’t turn down a good offer.
Then a letter arrives from a private investigator, and suddenly Abby stands to lose not one horse but two. The letter states that Jack’s mare may have been sold to the Lovitts as stolen goods. A mystery unfolds, more surprising than Abby could ever expect. Will she lose her beloved Jack to his rightful owners?
Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley raises horses of her own, and her affection and expertise shine through in this inviting horse novel for young readers, set in 1960s California horse country and featuring characters from The Georges and the Jewels.
True Blue (Horses of Oak Valley Ranch #3)
True Blue is a beauty, a dappled gray, and when Abby gets to take him to her family’s ranch, she can hardly believe her luck. The horse needs a home: his owner—a woman brand new to the riding stable–was tragically killed in a car crash and no one has claimed him. Daddy is wary, as always. But Abby is smitten. True Blue is a sweetheart, and whenever Abby calls out, "Blue, Blue, how are you?" he whinnies back.
But sometimes True Blue seems…spooked. He paces, and always seems to be looking for something. Or someone. Abby starts to wonder about True Blue’s owner. What was she like? What did she look like? One moonlit night, Abby could swear she hears a whisper in her ear: "He’s still my horse." Filled with riding scenes and horse details, this newest middle-grade novel from a Pulitzer Prize-winner offers a mysterious and suspenseful almost-ghost story.
Pie in the Sky (Horses of Oak Valley Ranch #4)
Abby Lovitt doesn’t realize how unprepared she is when she takes her beloved horse, True Blue, to a clinic led by the most famous equestrian anyone knows. The biggest surprise, though, is that Sophia, the girl who never makes a mistake, suddenly makes so many that she stops riding. Who will ride her horse? Abby’s dad seems to think it will be Abby. Pie in the Sky is the most expensive horse Abby has ever ridden. But he is proud and irritable, and he takes Abby’s attention away from the continuing mystery that is True Blue.
And then there’s high school—Abby finds new friends, but also new challenges, and a larger world that sometimes seems strange and intimidating. She begins to wonder if there is another way to look at horses, people, and life itself.
Accompanied by the beautiful imagery of 1960s Northern California, Abby’s charming mix of innocence and wisdom guide us through Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley’s latest middle-grade horse novel.
Gee Whiz (Horses of Oak Valley Ranch #5)
Gee Whiz is a striking horse, and only part of that is because of his size. He is tall, but also graceful, yet his strides big but precise. At the same time, he keeps his eye on things, not as if he’s suspicious, but as if he’s curious.
When Abby is confronted with an onslaught of reminders of just how little of the world she has seen, she finds herself connecting with Gee Whiz’s calm and curious nature, and his desire to know more. Her brother receives a draft notice to Vietnam, her friends return for the holidays with stories from their boarding school in Southern California, and the wise, lovable Brother Abner opens her eyes with tales of his many years spent traveling. At the same time, her beloved Jack and True Blue are both faced with opportunites to broaden their horizons away from the ranch.
Will she let them go, with hopes that she might one day do the same?