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Tough Trails
By author: Irene Morck
Selling Points: horses, outdoor survival, perserverance
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: Sep/01/2003
Lexile Level: HL620L
Fry Reading Level: 2.6
Pages: 128
Fiction Ages 12+
Price:  $9.95
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The horses' iron shoes scraped, metal against solid stone. Slowly they struggled upward, legs bent, lungs wheezing. Society Girl's halter rope tightened in my hand. I looked back. The old mare was really having problems.
    Groaning, she put her head down and lurched over one of the big rocks, her shoes slipping.
    Then, as though in slow motion, she crumpled to the ground.

When Ambrose is forced to sell his horse because of an injury, he must find a new animal that can handle the rigors of the mountains while packing for his uncle’s trail-riding outfit. To save an old lady's beloved companion from the meat-buyers, Ambrose buys a horse who would be better off in retirement than climbing the treacherous trails of the Rocky Mountains. The horse, Society Girl, almost dies on the trail, and Ambrose realizes she will have to go back to the meat-auction. When Ryan, a misbehaving ten-year-old, takes the horse and disappears into the teeth of a dangerous mountain storm, Ambrose and Janice are forced to work together to find him. Will the young boy and the elderly horse survive a vicious hailstorm? Will Society Girl prove that she has a future? Will Ambrose be able to save the old horse from certain death?
Western Horseman - June 1, 2005
“This small volume, beautifully written with vivid imagery and well-developed characters and plot, explains how sometimes what might seem like a bad decision might actually be a good one.”
NMRLS Book Review Group - January 1, 2005
“With just enough horses to appease girls, and just evough adventure to engage boys, Tough Trails delivers strong characters, adventures, and an easy to understand linear plot in just under 100 pages. Nothing in here will offend, either, making this an uncontroversial choice for classrooms. Recommended.”
Resource Links - January 1, 2004
"The action driven story will have reluctant readers galloping through this title. Sentences are short, grammar is uncomplicated, while the plot provides much material for discussion."
Canadian Book Review Annual - January 1, 2004
"Morck's experience with horses and trail-riding in the mountains is most evident...This book is aimed at an audience that is not limited to older adolescents; the gentle but engaging animal-human adventure story will also find a ready audience among middle-school students. Recommended."
KLIATT - January 1, 2004
"Short and sweet, this is likely to please outdoorsy teens as well as the usual horse-mad girls."
CM Magazine - September 1, 2003
“Provides readers with a true sense of escape and adventure. Sure to appeal to animal lovers and adventure lovers alike, it presents colourful characters and a unique plot.”


CCBC Our Choice, commended  CA  2004
PSLA Top Forty, short-listed  US  2003


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Teen fiction for
reluctant readers

Key Features:
Short, high-interest novels
Contemporary stories
Compelling characters
Linear plots
Ideal for Lit Circles
Ideal for Independent Reading

Teaching Resources:
Teachers' Guides
Resource Guide
Accelerated Reader selections
Lexile levels

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