Reviews for True Blue


Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
True Blue, sweet-tempered but easily spooked, needs a home. Horse-wise Abby (The Georges and the Jewels, A Good Horse) takes him on. Abby's story develops in satisfying ways, from her new job as a riding instructor to her estranged brother's reconciliation with their dad. It's gratifying to see good things come into the life of the likable, older-than-her-thirteen-years protagonist. Copyright 2012 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #6
True Blue, a sweet-tempered dapple gray who nonetheless spooks at everything, needs a new home after his owner is killed in a car accident. Thirteen-year-old Abby Lovitt, the earnest, horse-wise protagonist of The Georges and the Jewels (rev. 11/09) and A Good Horse (rev. 11/10), takes him on, but she breaks her arm in a fall before she can work with him. And is it Abby's imagination, or is the shadowy, dark-haired ghost of Blue's former owner following Blue around, claiming him as her own? Abby's story develops in satisfying ways, from her new job as a riding instructor (Smiley slips in lots of horse info through Abby's observations and interests) to her estranged brother's tentative reconciliation with their fundamentalist dad. The ghost motif is lightly handled, offering a few gentle chills before sunlight and practicality (introduced via Abby's growing friendship with twins Alexis and Barbie) ease her worries. It's gratifying to see good things come into the life of likable, older-than-her-years Abby and indicative of Smiley's talent that she can continue Abby's story in rewarding directions while keeping it as fresh and original as a stand-alone work. anita l. burkam Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 July #2

Smiley continues the story of Abby Lovitt and the horses on her family's California ranch in the 1960s.

When family friend and fellow stable-owner Jane sells Abby a horse for the change in her pocket, Abby is thrilled. True Blue, a gorgeous and personable gray, seems full of potential. But he comes with literal baggage—trunks of saddles and bridles and, most spookily, his dead former owner's boots. Abby shoves them out of sight, but she can't ignore Blue's own spookiness—he leaps and shies away from things no one else can see. Soon Abby is convinced that she, too, sees a ghost woman riding him. Meanwhile, Abby breaks her wrist, and an incident at her church brings her father's relationship with her estranged brother to a head. Abby has already learned how quickly things can go wrong—but now she learns that, sometimes, everything can also be put right. Readers who have been with this story from the beginning will enjoy watching narrator Abby continue to grow; newcomers will want to go back and start at the beginning with The Georges and the Jewels (2009).

Smiley's pristine, graceful prose and thoroughly real characters make this a novel to savor. (Historical fiction. 10 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 August

Gr 6-8--True Blue continues the story of Abby Lovitt and her conservative Christian family. Abby lives on a horse ranch in Northern California during the 1960s. She and her father go to see a beautiful dappled gray horse whose owner recently died in a traffic accident. Abby is enchanted and she pays $5.60 for him on the spot. True Blue is a nervous animal, and the girl soon wonders if his deceased owner might still be visiting him as a ghost. As she struggles with the idea of this ghost, she goes on a cattle drive, breaks her arm, and gives riding lessons. She also puzzles over her father's relationships with both her brother and with their church. This novel will appeal most to readers interested in horses as the author is generous with passages containing detailed descriptions of training, grooming, and riding. Those looking for lots of action or humor will be disappointed.--Mindy Whipple, West Jordan Library, UT

[Page 122]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2011 October
When Abby Lovitt visits her former stable to see the horse whose owner died in a tragic car accident, she feels compelled to buy True Blue on the spot. Abby believes she has purchased the perfect first horse…until she notices that something seems to be haunting Blue. Blue is skittish and tense, jumping at things no one else can see. Then, Abby thinks she sees the apparition of a woman who could be Blue's former owner. When she next hears a woman's voice warning her away from Blue, Abby is spooked. Afraid the woman is a figment of her imagination, Abby seeks the advice of her brother, Danny, and her friend, Barbie, to unearth the truth. Ranch life and religion play a strong role in shaping Abby's character and explaining her desire for answers to Blue's past. Abby's father is drawn as a stoic, domineering man who intimidates others with his black-and-white views of how life should be lived. Abby's family and friends are stock characters, while the stable students steal the most exciting scenes of the book. Smiley's attempt to create an engrossing tale of horse training and family values is marred by one-dimensional characters, mediocre descriptions, and a lack of engaging dialogue. Readers looking for a tale of horses may be briefly satisfied, but the bond between Abby and True Blue falls short of the emotional mark. The conclusion to Abby's discovery about Blue's former owner again falls flat. This is an additional purchase for libraries with an abundance of horse lovers.--Laura Panter. PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96229-5. 3Q 2P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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