If Chris Platt had been publishing when I was a kid, I never would have let my parents talk me out of taking jumping lessons, the next step I yearned to pursue in my equestrian training. Adolescents can use all the encouragement and inspiration they can get, and Race the Wind! provides plenty.
to the faith and hard work of Katie Durham, the racehorse named Willow
King no longer suffers badly twisted legs. After painstaking training,
mostly depicted in the award-winning prequel (Willow King),
the Thoroughbred from an unknown Oregon stable finally gains the strength
and heart he needs to compete in major races. Katie determinedly sets
out to prove to the world that Willow King possesses the stuff of champions.
Katie, too, wants
to prove herself. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she always
felt as if people doubted her physical abilities. Already granted permission
to gallop Thoroughbreds in workouts, she seeks to become a licensed jockey
in time for the Kentucky Derby. She knows the dangers of the profession
but believes she can master the tricks of the trade. But can she master
her own doubts and fears, and guide her beloved Willow King into the winner's
answer may surprise you.
a clean prose style and well-rounded characters make Race the Wind!
enjoyable for adults and youths alike. Even Katie's nemesis, the stable
owner's bratty daughter, demonstrates a heart in the latter half of the
book. I knocked off a quarter-point because I wanted to see a tad more
development in their relationship at the end. Another quarter-point came
off because some of the jargon, such as "hotwalker," did not come with
sufficient explanation for the non-insider. If Platt covered this turf
in the prequel, then it constitutes the only point at which my reading
experience suffered for not reading Willow King first.
I wish my daughter
were old enough to read Race the Wind! for herself, and
I definitely plan to keep it for her. Platt touches upon many teen issues
with deft sensitivity, including self-image, boy-girl and parent-child
relations, and helping others to overcome their own handicaps -- emotional
as well as physical. I dub this book a prime candidate for mother-daughter
book clubs for, whether we realize it or not, we all live with some form
The author, who pursued
her passion for horses to become one of the first female jockeys, counts
among her literary heroes Marguerite Henry and Walter Farley. As a horse-
and book-loving young girl, I shared her idols -- and consider Platt worthy
to join their ranks.
(Originally published in Crescent Blues. Reprinted with permission.)