SELAH (Say-la) aspires to be an equestrian superstar. That would require a horse.
HER DILEMMA: Grandpa wants nothing to do with horses.
THEN: Selah sees buzzards circling the grasslands behind Grandpa’s farm. They are stalking a horse trapped in wire and Selah is its only hope.
DANGEROUS: The horse is wild and defiant - jeopardizing Selah’s dreams.
FOILED: The legal owner searched for the horse for two years and wants it back.
BUT: Selah is confident that God will provide her heart’s desire.
MEMORIES: Grandpa shows Selah a video, from long ago, of a phenomenal equestrian. Selah declares she wants to be like her and Grandpa explains the rider was her grandmother.
HOPE: A world renowned horse trainer offers to train Sweet Dream and Selah.
FOILED AGAIN: Her parents could ruin everything unless Sweet Dream’s unruly behavior ruins it first.
LOST: Selah’s opportunity to mirror the equestrian talent of her renowned grandmother evaporates when the horse causes mayhem at the trainer’s facility.
NEVER GIVE UP: Will Selah gather her courage and face up to the trainer to save her aspirations?
on Kirkus Reviews:
Two thumbs way up... Best horse book ever... Wholesome page turner… I'm utterly smitten... Adventure and surprises… Clean read… Reminds me of the classics… Delightful…
Kristi Benedict on Feathered Quill Book Reviews wrote:
A young girl wants a horse more than anything, but when she finally gets one, she gets more than she bargained for in Count’s debut middle-grade novel.
Soon after Selah arrives for the summer at her grandfather’s Texas farm, she starts pestering her grandfather for a horse, telling him how much she loves the animals and arguing, “The farm’s too quiet, Grandpa. A horse farm should be alive with horses!” She gets nowhere with that argument, but then she spots a horse running around the meadow beyond the farm. Together, Selah and her grandfather soon set out to find it again, as they believe it’s a black filly that disappeared a few years ago. Selah finds the horse, which now has injured its leg in coiled wire. By the time she and her grandfather free it, Selah is convinced that the horse was sent to her on purpose. It turns out to be the last foal of Harmony, Selah’s grandmother Mary’s horse. Mary, who died when Selah was 4, rode in dressage competitions. Selah’s grandfather gave Harmony to a family friend, who now insists that Selah keep the horse’s descendant. But the animal, named Mary’s Dream Song, is difficult, defiant, and very hard to train. Selah’s grandfather’s old friend invites the girl to train the horse at his facility, and it’s up to her to convince everyone to stick with Dream. Count’s debut is an engaging read. The author clearly knows her horses, as the story includes plenty of details, including specific training methods: “If the trainer is standing tall, leaning in, and looking intently at the horse, then it knows it’s being told to move its feet.” The story also has plenty of suspenseful passages to keep readers engaged. Although Selah’s relationship with the horse is a key part of the story, her relationship with her grandfather is even more important as they deal with their grief over Selah’s grandmother’s death and figure out how to keep Dream in their lives.
An engaging horse tale with a lot of heart.
Mamta Madhavan on Reader's Favorite wrote:
The two weeks that twelve-year-old Selah gets to spend with her grandfather are always wonderful but the only thing that could make it perfect is having a horse. Unfortunately, her grandpa has decided to never have horses again, for after Selah’s grandmother passed away he vowed to never be around them again. The memories of the happy times with his wife were just too hard to think about and horses brought those thoughts up even more. So, much to Selah’s dismay it looked like the only animal she would be hanging out with was her grandpa’s sweet dog named Skunk.
One day when her Grandpa went into town to run errands, Selah decided to take a hike but soon discovers a group of buzzards circling over something. As she ventures closer she discovers that the buzzards are zoning in on a horse that has been tangled up in wire and could not get herself out. Frightened that trying to free the horse by herself would just cause the horse to become even more entangled, she runs as fast as her legs can carry her and scrambles back to the house to find her grandfather. Thankfully he is back from his trip into town and after hearing his granddaughter’s frantic story he quickly follows her to the trapped horse. With a quiet, gentle approach Selah and her grandfather slowly untangle the frightened animal, carefully slip a halter on her head, and one step at a time they lead her back to the barn.
After a thorough exam from the veterinarian, Selah and her grandfather finally get a minute to get a good look at this mysterious horse. Aside from the cuts and scratches they could see she was a beautiful, well-balanced, and attractive black mare that was clearly owned by someone who cared for her at one point in her life. As Selah’s grandfather continues to look at this horse he remembers a young horse that got loose after a trailer had flipped over about two years ago; the horse was never recovered so everyone assumed it was living wild in the woods. As the search for answers continues, both Selah and her grandfather will be surprised to find that this horse is connected to their family in more ways than one.
This was a wonderfully written story that inspires an age of reader that sometimes is overlooked. At the age of twelve the main character of Selah goes on quite an amazing adventure that had me smiling the whole way through this book. I also enjoyed the real life experiences that were brought alive as Selah works through the training issues that arise as she works with her horse.
Quill says: A wonderful combination of inspiration and engaging horse adventure.
Selah's Sweet Dream by Susan Count is an exciting story for all animal lovers. Selah always dreams of life with a horse and she wants to become an equestrian superstar. Her grandfather does not want her to have anything to do with horses. She also happens to see a video of her grandmother on a horse and their chemistry reminds her of ballroom dancers. One day she sees buzzards stalking a trapped horse and Selah realizes that she has to save the horse. The horse is wild and defiant, but Selah knows deep in her heart that the horse is meant for her. She takes the horse home but her hopes are dashed when the horse goes berserk at the trainer's place. Will Selah be able to fulfill her dreams?
The book conveys a good message about having faith in oneself and God. It is also very motivational as it shows a girl's determination and perseverance to achieve what she wants in life. Selah never gives up in the story and she pursues her dreams relentlessly. The characters in the story are tangible and readers can connect with them and their lives. Selah is adorable and relatable. The author's style of writing is neat and elegant and there is never a dull moment in the plot. The story has its small twists and turns as it progresses and keeps readers entertained. Selah's determination, perseverance and persistence, and her training sessions are all inspirational.
Selah’s Sweet Dream is a fictional story about a very brave young girl with great aspirations to become the next big equestrian superstar, following in the footsteps of her grandmother.
Doesn’t every horse-mad youngster dream of the perfect horse?
The first step for 12-year-old Selah is, of course, getting a horse. But even then, the journey is not easy for the youngster who seemingly has to battle every step of the way to achieve her dreams. Selah has some lucky breaks along the way, but as in real life, she finds that even the tiny triumphs do not always come easily.
The writer has shown that while life is not perfect, kindness and patience can conquer all.
Selah’s Sweet Dream will appeal to the young reader who enjoys a story with a happy ending, but it is also a page-turner with excitement and breath-holding moments along the way.
This book is suitable for readers of 10 and upwards, and could be read in less than a week by the avid reader. The chapters are broken up into easily read lengths, making it easy to reading aloud to younger readers.