The Island Horse

Ages 8+

It's the early half of the 19th century in coastal Nova Scotia, and almost-ten-year-old Ellie is adjusting to the recent death of her mother. But just when she finally begins to feel happy again, Ellie and her father move to remote Sable Island, a tiny, windblown crescent of grass and sand in the Atlantic. While her father works, Ellie explores the island, feeling alone and furious with her pa for making them leave their beloved home. Even meeting a spirited island girl named Sarah does little to dispel her anger and grief.

Then one afternoon, Ellie encounters a wild stallion grazing on the dunes, and slowly forges a secret connection with the beautiful horse she names Orchid. But Ellie soon learns that Orchid and his family are threatened, and it may be up to her to save them. Based on historical fact, this early chapter book is a touching exploration of loss and loneliness and the redemptive power of love and friendship.

Kids Can Press Canada - The Island Horse

What the Readers Say

"What a fine historical fiction for all horse-loving girls age six (precocious readers) through eleven-ish. Or, if you're an adult who grew up a fan of the Misty of Chincoteague books or The Black Stallion series, you'll spend a nostalgic hour or two immersed in Ms. Hughes's sure-footed prose and her winning ten-year-old heroine Ellie."
-Laurie, What She Read blog

"This is a beautiful story for children ages 7 and up. While it is written for children, I enjoyed it at age 52 and my father enjoyed it at age 87. This book ... is well-done in every aspect.... The characters ring true in their emotions and actions. ... The story has enough suspense to maintain the reader's interest without ever reaching a level that would frighten or overwhelm a child."
-Chris McAllister, Rambles blog

"Hand this one to kids who like historical fiction and beautiful language and a story that's a little different than the usual plots. Recommended."
-Jennifer, Jean Little Library blog

"Written with simplicity and clarity, this attractive chapter book features likeable characters and a distinctive setting."
-Booklist, March 2012

Awards & Nominations

  • Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award for English Fiction nominee, 2013
  • Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street Children's Book Committee, winner, 2013

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