Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Gallant: The Call of the Trail, exquisitely written by Claire Eckard and magnificently illustrated by Phylicia Mann, tells the story (“two horses, two people, one journey”) of Gracie’s lifelong love and devotion for her stallion Gallant as the story is read to Tommy, age 7, by his great-grandfather. The tale is about Grace, whom we meet at about the same age as Tommy. Grace watches a foal, Gallant, being born and immediately bonds with the new foal, lying next to him in the hay. Then we watch the two as they grow inseparably together until an accident causes Gallant to be sold. Feeling responsible, Grace’s heart is broken by the separation and her guilt for having caused the misfortune. Gallant’s heart is also broken.
However, Gallant grows up in good hands, and the two protagonists are bound to meet again as the plot involves the sport of endurance racing set in central California. Gallant is being trained to race with a boy named Jack, and Grace learns the same sport on a horse named Joshua, both having to eventually face a misused and brutally competitive stallion Flash. I say, “exquisitely written” because author Eckard keeps the suspense, the surprises, and our emotions moving at breakneck speed, with even the horses’ feelings presented almost as if the steeds are human. Besides being an emotional rollercoaster, Ms. Eckard’s book is also an inspirational tribute to horses, horsemanship, and the sport of endurance racing. Furthermore, young readers will receive a strong lesson in how to "be." Gracie and Jack are superb role models, as are the horses themselves. Gallant: The Call of the Trail by Claire Eckard should be in all school libraries and will be an immediate hit for all readers who love horses.