Monday, August 20, 2012

The Drover's Quest: High Drama in the New Zealand Alps (Review and Giveaway)



From the jacket copy, courtesy of HarperCollins New Zealand:

Rumour is flying around the west coast gold fields that Tom McGee has struck it rich and found a nugget of gold as big as a man's fist. So no one is surprised when next his campsite is found wrecked and abandoned. Men have been killed for a lot less on the tough goldfields of 1860s New Zealand. 
But one person is convinced Tom is not dead. His headstrong daughter, Charlotte. Solving the mystery is not her first task, though. First, she must get to the coast. A skilful horse rider, she disguises herself as a boy and joins a cattle drive across the Southern Alps. To survive the dangerous drive over Arthur's Pass and to keep her identity hidden from the vicious trail boss, she'll need the help of her dog, her horse, and her father's friend, Tama. She knows she can do it - she has to - but what will she find? And will her new American friend, Joseph, help or hinder her quest? Charlie is in for the ride of her life - and the stakes couldn't be higher.

Ever since I reviewed Susan Brocker's "The Wolf in the Wardrobe," I've been a big fan of this New Zealand author. Her latest, THE DROVER'S QUEST, (Harper Collins, 2012) doesn't disappoint. It starts off with a chilling scene of presumed murder and gallops along as Charlotte sets out to discover what's happened to her father. "Charlie" is an appealingly brave character and an accomplished rider, but it's danger all the way as she joins a cattle drove across the Southern Alps. Truly, it could be death at every juncture.

Brocker's love for animals shines throughout. The dogs and horses are every bit as brave and intelligent as their human companions. I kid you not that my heart was in my throat on several occasions. Brilliant, tense adventure.

Teachers, this would be an excellent book for your middle grade library. (My son's 7th-grade teacher had a fantastic library because she had a curriculum where the students were expected to read at least one novel from every continent. This would have taken care of Australia.) Set in 1866, there's mention of gold rushes, Maori folklore, New Zealand geography, and even--in the character of Joseph, who is part Cherokee--mention of the Civil War and life for Native Americans.

So, because I'm a kind and generous soul, and I want other people to experience Susan Brocker's storytelling, I'm offering up my signed copy of THE DROVER'S QUEST. Just leave a comment here, and I'll choose a winner on Friday the 24th at 9 p.m. PST. 
May the Mayhem be with you!

15 comments:

  1. This sounds like a great book. Love the cover. I'm going to let someone else win because my TBR list is too high right now. Thanks for the great review.

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    1. Thanks, Natalie. I hear you on the TBR pile!

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  2. I have never heard of this author- but this book does sound fascinating. I love dogs and horses- so I am very curious. Terrific review. Thanks for the introduction.
    ~Jess
    http://thesecretdmsfilesoffairdaymorrow.blogspot.com/

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    1. Jess, Susan Brocker loves animals and it shows throughout her writing. The dogs and horses and even the parrot are stars in this novel.

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  3. What a terrific curriculum idea--reading a novel from each continent! I'm going to have to grab that idea and run...

    Thank you for offering your copy. I would LOVE to win it.

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    1. I loved that teacher's reading list--my son not so much!

      Best of luck, Barbara.

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  4. Sounds a little bit like White Fang from Middle Earth, which sounds like a great mix to me!

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    1. You and I need to collaborate on a White Fang Middle Earth mash-up, Matt.

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    2. I would LOVE to write a book together someday, and that sounds like a great premise. If only someone hadn't already written The Drover's Quest ...

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  5. Michael... thanks for the giveaway. This sounds like a great adventure!

    And I second Barbara's comment about the curriculum idea. I might have to mention this to my son's teacher!

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    1. Good luck in the giveaway, Julie!

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  6. Michael, this looks exciting! I love reading books from other continents. It opens up a whole new world (no pun intended). I totally recommend Out of Shadows, by Jason Wallace. It's based on the author's own life and talks about what happens to a boy who moves from England to Zimbabwe, and enters an elite boarding school in the wake of a bloody civil war. Very powerful stuff!

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Hilary. I also love reading books from other continents. Jason Wallace's looks right up my alley--I'm checking it out!

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  7. Sounds perfect for my horse loving novel reading soon to be 7th grader! love all the historical facts amidst the great story plot. looking forward to reading it someday in my own classroom - if I ever get the opportunity!

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  8. Thanks for putting this one on our radar, Michael! Sounds great. :)

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!