Bush bolts by Soraya Nicholas

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Starlight Stables series bk 3. Penguin Australia, 2016. ISBN 9780143308621
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Horses. Bushfires. Friendship. Although this is part of a series it can be read as a stand-alone and is sure to appeal to horse crazy girls. Poppy is thrilled to have her best friend Sarah visit Starlight Stables with her. She really wants her to love horses as much as she does, but it soon becomes apparent that Sarah is more interested in helping Poppy's uncle, who is a vet, with the small animals at the farm. Sarah is brave though, and goes on a trail ride with Poppy, and her friends Milly and Katie, but fierce lightning threatens to start a bushfire and the girls have to ride for their lives.
Although Bush bolts is the third book in the series it was very easy to quickly become familiar with the four main characters. Poppy is worried that her best friend Sarah won't fit in on her first visit to Starlight Stables. One of the main themes of the story is about Poppy accepting what her friend Sarah is interested in, even though she finds it hard to understand that Sarah doesn't love horses as much as she does. Milly is a fiery character who often blurts out things without thinking while Katie is sweet and understanding but gradually the four begin to understand each other.
Readers will be drawn to the adventures that the group have, trail riding, facing down cattle and escaping a bushfire. The girls face danger of the bushfire with great bravery, and Poppy shows her leadership skills as she looks after Sarah and directs the girls back to the farm. The author gives excellent background information about bushfires and proper preparation for them, as well as lots of riding hints and details about caring for horses.
Readers are sure to want to find more of the series after reading this very enjoyable story.
Pat Pledger