Gabriel's Horses (Racing to Freedom Trilogy)

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From the publisher:

In the first book of this engrossing middle-grade trilogy set during the Civil War, a young Kentucky slave dares to pursue his dream of becoming a jockey.

The year is 1864 and twelve-year-old Gabriel hopes to one day become a famous jockey. Although he is a the son of a free black father and a slave mother-making him a slave as well-he loves to help his father, one of the best horse trainers in Kentucky, care for the thoroughbred racehorses on Master Giles's farm.

But the violence of war disrupts the familiar routine of daily life on the farm. One-Arm Dan Parmer and his band of Confederate raiders are threatening area farms and stealing horses. When Gabriel's father enlists in a Colored Battalion to help the Union Army and earn enough money to purchase freedom for his wife and son, Gabriel is both proud and worried. But the absence of his father brings the arrival of Mr. Newcastle, a white horse trainer with harsh, cruel methods for handling horses...and people.

Now it is up to Gabriel to protect the horses he loves from Mr. Newcastle and keep them safely out of the clutches of One-Arm Dan and his men.

Author Alison Hart mines the complex relationships between white and black, slave and master, Unionist and Confederate, and old and young in this gripping work of historical fiction. Young readers will experience the danger and drama of a time when war split the country and human beings were segregated into the owners and the owned based on the color of their skin. Background historical material and photos are included.

161 pages  978-1561453986  Ages 9-12

What do you do when your father is gone and you are left behind to care for the horses and the family? What do you do when a war is tearing up your country and your father has gone to fight looking for dignity and respect and finding something less.

Twelve-year old Gabriel Alexander holds the lessons he learned from his father over the years as he was growing up.  He knows horses.  Now in the middle of the Civil War, horses in Kentucky are a prize for armies.  Dreams of racing horses may be lost in the dust of battles.   Gabriel's choices will be critical.  Fast-paced, deeply felt, wonderful weaving of history and the courage of African American slaves.  

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge

Trilogy:  Gabriel's Horses, Gabriel's Journey; Gabriel's Triumph

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