Shadow of a Doubt by Skylar Jones

ShadowofaDoubtAdaptive Studios, 2015

Fyfe Flynn is only twelve, but she knows her way around a racetrack. That’s because her father’s a jockey and a winning jockey, at that. It’s a good thing, too, because if the Flynns had to make their living from the family farm they’d be in serious trouble. What the Flynns know is horses, but even Fyfe’s father can’t be convinced when she insists their horse Shadow is a true winner. Everyone else may say that Shadow’s too small and too ordinary to be a racehorse, but Fyfe knows better. Fyfe knows that Shadow’s got the heart of a winner. Fyfe and Shadow will have to risk everything to prove it and get a chance at a big win.

I’ve been looking for a book with an old-fashioned sensibility that readers today would also enjoy. That’s a tall order since today’s readers expect a much faster pace than kids once did, and it’s tough to get the sensibility of the older, more leisurely books when the plot’s whipping along like a racehorse. Skylar Jones has handled this feat magnificently. Shadow of a Doubt has humor and heart, and the plot never lags so it won’t cause readers lose its readers’ attention.

I’m a wimp about animal stories. Even when they’re not intended to, they often make me sad. Ironically, I’m a sucker for a horserace story. I’ve spent many a happy afternoon curled up with Dick Frances. This story never pushed my weepy-poor-animal buttons; it kept me engaged and made me laugh, instead. And I enjoyed the humorous and sometimes snarky commentary from the animal characters.

There was a down-home element of this book that was voiced in part by many, many clichés. It came right up to the verge of annoying me, but seemed to lessen in each scene just as I was beginning to consider how much it was bothering me. All-in-all Shadow of a Doubt is a charming and heartwarming book that animal-loving middle grade readers and others will enjoy. It would make a good read aloud for a classroom or for bedtime.

I received a review copy of Shadow of a Doubt courtesy of Adaptive Books.

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