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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Riding Chance is the story of Troy, a 13-year-old city boy, who gets caught for a petty crime but avoids Juvenile Hall by being assigned work duty at the city stables. As he learns to care for the horses, ride one named Chance, and play polo, he learns about himself and copes with grief. The novel deals with the loss of a parent and an instance of stop and frisk. It also has some instances of bullying behavior and mild name calling ("stupid"). Parents should be ready to talk about these things, as well as the importance of making good choices in friends and how to cope during stressful situations.
It is a story full of new friendships, identities, and animal bonding.
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What's the Story?
In RIDING CHANCE, Troy and his friend Foster get on the wrong side of the law by trusting a not-so-trustable friend. Now, they're face to face with animals neither young man has seen up close before: horses that weigh hundreds of pounds. Instead of doing time in juvie, they're assigned to the local city stables, where they learn to care for the horses and about the sport of polo. This opens a door to real opportunities and healing for Troy, but it could close the door on his lifelong friendship with Foster. Can Troy manage the out-of-control aspects of his life like he controls his horse, or will his problems overtake him like a stampede?
Is It Any Good?
In this moving, funny, and eye-opening story, readers are taken into a world of horse care and polo as Troy tries to navigate the lightening-fast changes in his life. Riding Chance is beautifully written, and the characters are well developed and feel like family, friends, and neighbors, from the Zumba-dancing grandma to the grief-stricken dad and the self-proclaimed mayor of the block. Readers (and their parents) will love the casual neighborhood vibe set against the trials of Troy's life. Author Christine Kendall brings normalcy to a series of extraordinary circumstances in the life of a typical city kid as he learns some great life lessons while caring for horses and learning the sport of polo.
One thing Kendall does well is allow characters of various ages and genders to act as a moral compass for the main character. It's heartening to read a story that doesn't stick to the narrative of a lonely street kid with no adults or peers available for positive influence and guidance. It's also nice to bring a rural activity -- horse husbandry -- and an elite sport -- polo -- into an urban setting.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Riding Chance shows different way families and friends can positively influence teens. Who are the positive influences in your life? Do you have a mentor?
How can working with animals help people cope with problems? How working with Chance help Troy deal with his feelings? Do you have an outlet to help you cope with stress?
Discuss the stop and frisk incident. How would you have reacted if you had been held without cause? What do you think of the current nationwide discussion of police brutality and unwarranted stops on the news and in social media?
- Author: Christine Kendall
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Friendship, Horses and Farm Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: October 11, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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