Firehorse

Firehorse

Black Beauty, Flicka, Misty, National Velvet, Black Stallion--what are they? That's right, fictional horses that have entertained and pulled the heartstrings of generations of readers. How about Governor's Girl?
It is Boston, 1872. Fifteen-year-old Rachel Selby cares about animals. She volunteers to nurse back to health a badly burned firehorse named Governor's Girl. Before the automobile, real horse power pulled the fire engines. As the author explains, these horses had to be trained "...to gallop toward a blazing fire rather than away from it. They had to be strong enough to pull a steam engine weighing two tons...yet agile enough to negotiate narrow streets...they had to be smart enough to dart
from their stalls...and back into position in front of the engine,...waiting to be harnessed." To people and neighborhoods they were "first responder" heroes.
As Rachel cares for the firehorse, she befriends a young veterinary who encourages her to pursue her dream of also becoming a vet. Her parents, especially her father, today would be called a male chauvinist pig. " 'Ridiculous!' Father thundered. 'She's a girl. Girls don't become veterinaries...Educating a girl is a waste of...money. I might as well educate that horse of yours.' "
Besides Rachel's personal dilemma, a horse distemper epidemic has struck weakening the city's firehorses. Arson-suspected fires are breaking out throughout the city. We've all heard of the great Chicago fire of 1871? Well, 1872 it was Boston's turn. With Rachel at the reins, fully recovered Governor's Girl responds to the alarm.
Courage, perseverance, strength, and intelligence were necessary qualities for a firehorse. Those same characteristics were also needed for young women in 1872 to achieve their dreams. Likewise for today?
Firehorse should be in every library's horse story corral. It should especially appeal to readers of animal stories or historical fiction. The Arkansas City High School library is also getting some checkout activity with K.M. Peyton's Blind Beauty (1999).
Recommended by Robert L. Hicks, Librarian.

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