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Canterwood Crest Series by Jessica Burkhart


Review by Leigh Ballard

The Canterwood Crest series consists of a whopping 18 books for young equestriennes. The first book, Take the Reins, introduces the main character, Sasha  Silver, who is starting 7th grade at a new school. Canterwood Crest is a boarding school with an elite riding team. Sasha and her horse, Charm, transferred from a school where she had reached her top riding potential that the school could offer her. In this beginning book for the series, her challenge is to step up to the demands of a high level team and also find her place in the social order at the new school. Her roommate is a non-horsey girl who helps her keep her balance and focus when she runs up against a snobby clique of spoiled but highly pressured, as well as talented, riders. She finds a good friend in Callie, also a rider on the team.  All the girls are on the Intermediate Team when the book begins, and there is much competition among them about being selected for the Advanced Team. Sasha endures criticism and belittling with grace, and is a good example of perseverance and commitment. Even though her self-confidence sometimes needs bolstering, she has good strategies and coping skills for pressure. Her commitment to her horse and her riding is exemplary. She is truly a team player.

Book two, called Chasing Blue, is the story of the Advanced Team preparing for and then competing in an important regional competition among the top New England schools. Again, the story is full of pressure and anxiety for all the girls on the team. Not only does Sasha have to deal with practice and competition, she experiences the additional pressure of schoolwork and bad grade problems. This book also develops the “potential boyfriend” aspect of the story, which involves Jacob, a cute boy that Sasha met on her first day of school. The “mean girl,” clique ringleader, Heather, works hard to cause big trouble between Sasha and Jacob. This book begins to shed light on Heather’s emotional and family problems. Sasha often chooses the high road when dealing with Heather, once again showing herself as a solidly grounded young girl.

This series provides a good long-term supply of horsey reading for preteens.

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