Reviewed by Hilary Smillie
Paula Boer’s first book in the Brumbies series is a gem. Her two young protagonists, Louise, recently moved to the Snowy Mountains area from town, and Ben, a local farm boy, have struck up a friendship with their common love of horses. When Louise discovers the wild brumbies roaming the mountain parklands are regularly mustered for the sales yards and many turned into pet food, she is keen to save them. The teenagers come across part of a herd and two particularly attractive brumbies capture their hearts. Louise who borrows Ben’s horses to ride, loves a buckskin mare, and dreams of owning her. Ben has his eye on a colt. They decide to hold their own muster.
Thus begins a remarkable adventure for the pair and any horselover will be enthralled by the storyline. What elevates Brumbies above the usual pony read is that not only is it set in wild mountain country with all its tough challenges, but Paula has described every detail of what riding, mustering and wild horse-taming is all about. Her experience as a horsewoman, mustering on remote cattle stations and capturing and breaking in brumbies to name a few of her talents, shines through with gripping authenticity.
Readers with little knowledge of horses will be delightfully educated and this story is bound to be a hit in schools as well as in the wider readership. Paula describes the birdlife and fauna of the Australian bush with great enthusiasm. A Glossary is included for added information.
Rowena Evans’ engaging black and white illustrations throughout the book complement the story. The cover, with its pen and wash depiction of a herd of brumbies on a background of vivid green, is very attractive. Brumbies is a tremendous story for all ages and may even become an Aussie icon.
Brumbies by Paula Boer Illus by Rowena Evans
(IFWG Publishing) ISBN -978-0-646-56641-2 RRP $16.99