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“I was awful glad that I wasn’t born a rock,” Koda. –Horse Diaries: Koda
Horse Diaries #3
by Patricia Hermes
Set in Independence, Missouri in 1846, Koda is a bay quarter horse with a white blaze. He loves to explore the countryside and run free with his human friend, Jasmine. But after Koda sets out with Jasmine’s family on a long and dusty wagon train journey on the Oregon Trail, he finds out what is truly important to him. Here is Koda’s story . . . in his own words.
The first part of the book focuses on Koda, a newborn colt, who is already curious. His curiosity gets him into trouble and his mother has to remind him, “Curious is good. Foolish is not!” Koda must learn how to navigate the world, avoid prey, and interact with humans. Readers who love horses will enjoy Koda’s growth from a newborn colt to a two-year-old.
The second part of the book focuses on the Oregon Trail. The story teaches about some of the hardships of the Oregon Trail, including interactions with Native Americans and illnesses. Some of the people on the wagon train caught cholera. “And then one day, a little child became sick. She got sick in the morning and was dead by nighttime. Then more children sickened and died, and grown people, too, old ones and young ones, mamas and papas.” Even though some people die, Jasmine and her father make it to their new home and are hopeful about the future.
Koda is accessible to many readers because of the large font and black and white illustrations that appear every 5 to 6 pages. The illustrations help readers understand the plot as well as see the clothing of the time period. The Appendix has eight pages with more information about quarter horses.
Readers who love horses and are interested in the Oregon Trail will enjoy reading Koda. However, readers who love action and adventure may quickly become bored with the story. None of the human characters are well developed which will make it difficult to connect to them. While Jasmine’s journey contains some danger, her character will be quickly forgotten. Advanced readers ready for a longer book with a more advanced plot should read the Riders of the Realm Series by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez.
- Koda sees a mountain lion that “leaped off the top of that rock. It came at me. It was all fur and twitching ears and claws that stretched out toward me. And it had a foul smell.” Mama horse leads the mountain lion away from Koda.
- When introducing Koda to the herd, “Mama was busy making it plain to the other horses who was the boss of me. She kept shoving and nudging at the ones who came up to inspect me, and a few times, she took a little nip at the side of the bigger ones who got too pushy.”
- Koda gets angry and “nipped” at a girl.
- Jasmine, who is dehydrated, lays on the ground and buzzards begin to circle her. Koda “roared up to the buzzard, rearing up on my hind legs, boxing furiously with my front hooves. The creature just hopped backward, out of my reach, flapping its nasty wings.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- After an encounter with Native Americans, “some folks said that Jasmine and the Indians had brought us good luck.”