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Frances Henderson

Toronto, Stoddart, 1991. 156pp, paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-7737-5426-1. CIP

Grades 5 to 8/Ages 10 to 13
Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

An accident in pre-high schooler Kate Linbert's Ottawa home has led to major life changes. Drain opener, which splashed over Kate's face, has left her blind. Unable to cope with what has occurred, Dennis, Kate's father, sepa­rates from his wife, Irene. Forced to sell their home, Irene purchases an isolated log cabin on the Canadian Shield for herself, Kate and younger brother Sam. Blind, fatherless, and without friends, Kate receives an emotional boost when she fulfils a dream by purchasing Tweed, a white horse. The two children hope that an August long weekend camping trip involving their father will reunite their parents, but its results have the opposite effect. However, while Irene is returning Dennis to the city and Sam and Kate are temporarily alone, two burglars break into the cabin. Sam is caught and bound, but Kate escapes and rides for help on Tweed. The parents' return includes an emotional scene that culminates in Dennis' indicating he wants to rejoin his family.

The Invisible Horse succeeds only marginally as either a problem novel or a horse story. The central character's blindness limits her "contributions" to thoughts, feelings or speech. When physical description is required, Henderson must utilize another charac­ter, usually Sam. This narrative split weakens both juvenile characters and reduces Sam to being little more than a talking head. Furthermore, the choppy plot seems padded with space-filling incidents, while Dennis' sudden change of heart at the book's conclusion, coupled with Irene's apparent immedi­ate willingness to forgive him, is just not believable.

Dave Jenkinson, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man.
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