Title: Spirit of the WestSpirit of the West
Author: Jahnna N. Malcolm
Illustrator: Sandy Rabinowitz
Pages: 122
Reading Level: 7-10
Star Rating:

Remember Pride of the Green Mountains? Same series!

The Story.

Wind Dancer is excited to be moving to a new home. Excited and scared. What will it be like to live on a ranch after living in a tipi all of her life? And will the children there accept her and be friends with her?

But Wind Dancer’s quest for acceptance turns disastrous after her disobedience leads to the disappearance of Starfire, one of the ranch colts. Will Wind Dancer be able to find him before he is hurt?


In the opening chapter, Wind Dancer has a dream in which a magnificent appaloosa, a “magical creature, shaped by the light and the wind” leads her to her new home. When she awakens, she tells her dream to her grandfather who tells her that she has been visited by her wayakin or spirit guide. Shortly thereafter, Wind Dancer and her family leave for the ranch, which, when they arrive, Wind Dancer recognizes as the place to which her wayakin led her in her dream.

After they arrive at the ranch, Wind Dancer sights the appaloosa again. This gives her courage. As she tries to fit in at the ranch, she decides that she needs to not cling so strongly to her heritage, but accept the more modern ways of the white people. I was happy that this was the case – so often stories about Indian children turn into a rant about why Indian cultures are better than white cultures.

But the story doesn’t end there. After another child in the school challenges Wind Dancer to prove her ability as a horse woman, Wind Dancer uses one of the ranch’s horses – Morning Star – to show off. She does this without asking Morning Star’s owner for permission and against her father’s direct command not to ride Morning Star. In the process, Morning Star’s foal, Starfire disappears, and, when Wind Dancer cannot find him, she decides that this is a punishment because she has denied her people and their ways. (Um, how about being the direct result of disobedience?) As soon as she decides this, she and Morning Star come upon Starfire, but twist – a cougar is there, too. Entre magical wayakin stallion to fight off the cougar, and exuent any chance of a slightly normal resolution. In the end, Wind Dancer has re-embraced the teaching of her people and is bragging about her wayakin.

(Oh, yes. And back when Wind Dancer wanted to use the ranch owner’s favorite horse to impress her school fellows and her father refused, she kinda totally blows up at him. But then, after she admits that it was her fault that Starfire escaped, her family lauds her for her bravery and wisdom in taking the responsibility, saying that she is a credit to their people. Oh dear.)

Wind Dancer’s father is noted for his ability to handle horses. When he meets a new horse, he tells the horse that the two of them are kin. After that, the horse is manageable. Okay…

At the end of the book is included a short section describing the history of the Appaloosa, in which we are told that European cave drawings dating back 30,000 years depict spotted horses.

Conclusion. Not recommended. Read King of the Wind and Justin Morgan Had a Horse before this one.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret


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