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How can twelve-year-old Dan Graham learn to accept a birthday present he didn’t want? Especially when that present is a skinny, sorrel mare named Ginger? The horseshoes Dan creates so she can do “special” jobs don’t always bring the desired results. Add to his problems being taunted by eighth-graders and befriending a Chinese boy whom no one else likes. Then he notices that his widower father is showing interest in the new school teacher. As if anyone could replace Dan’s mother! In 1900 Puget Sound country, Dan helps sandbag a flooding river, search for a lost child, and rescue snow-trapped cattle. But the scariest thing he’s ever done is ask Ginger to pull a cart across a frozen river, on a mercy mission to save a dying man. When the ice begins to crack, Dan learns the value of trust between him and Ginger Gold.
I didn’t like the skinny sorrel mare that Dad favored. She couldn’t begin to compare with the horse I really wanted—a brown and white pinto gelding. Even dripping wet from the drizzling rain, he was sleek and sassy looking. When I reached to pet his nose, he tossed his head and stamped his front feet.
“He has lots of spirit,” said the man holding his halter rope.
Nobody I knew owned a pinto, and besides, this horse looked as if he’d have as much spunk as Lucas Westley’s Thoroughbred. The kids in Greenfield knew I’d come to the Bonney City sales yard to buy a horse for my twelfth birthday, and the pinto would suit me perfect.
But Dad was plainly in doubt. He ran his hands over the pinto’s legs and back and barrel, then stood back and looked at him, shaking his head. “I don’t know, Dan. Most pintos are quiet natured. But this one’s kind of wild and mean-eyed.”
“He’ll calm down once we get to know each other,” I said.
“Maybe. But the horse you acquire today will be yours for a long time. You can’t choose one just because he’s flashy, or because none of your friends owns a pinto.”
As usual, Dad had seen right through me. People say we are a lot alike. Well, we’re both stocky-built, with brown hair and brown eyes. But far as I can tell, that’s about all we have in common. Although I can get as stubborn as he is, sometimes.
“I still think he’s the best-looking horse in the yard,” I said.
The man selling the pinto grinned and winked as if he knew the exact amount Dad had said we could afford. “Great buy for only twenty-five dollars.”
Dad would make the final choice of which horse he bought for me, but I’d hoped to have some say about it. I knew better than to fuss at him too much, though, so I just gave him my best pleading look.
He didn’t seem to notice. “Let’s take another peek at the mare,” he said.
He turned away to slog across the muddy sales yard. Scowling, I followed him. We passed other horses—mares and geldings, browns and bays. None as smart-looking as the pinto. Dad stopped in front of the sorrel with the white-striped face and four white socks. She stood hip-shot, with her head low and her ears drooping. Honestly, I couldn’t figure why Dad would give that mare a second glance.
The man holding her halter had a young-looking face, but white hair showed from under his hat. He had white eyebrows, too, and pale-blue eyes. His hands and face looked pasty, as if he never went out in the sun.
“Are you the owner?” Dad asked.
“No.” The man fidgeted, nervous-like. “I brought her in for Far Meadows Farms.”
Since Sam Meadows is a friend of Dad’s, he naturally liked the sound of that. He stuck out his hand. “Dan Graham,” he said, “and this is my son, Little Dan.”
The white-haired man gave each of us a quick handshake. “James Long,” he said.
“What’s Sam expecting to get for her?” Dad asked.
I nearly bit my tongue. He couldn’t really be that interested in the mare, could he?
“Uhhhm. Thirty-five dollars.”
Thank goodness! Ten dollars too much. In spite of all the hoopla about prosperity being just around the corner, 1900 hadn’t been any better for us than any other year. I couldn’t imagine Dad spending more than he’d planned. But as if he hadn’t heard, he started checking the sorrel as carefully as he had the pinto. Then he took hold of her lead and trotted her in a circle. She flung her front feet to the side with every step. A paddlefoot. Dad shoes horses for a living, and he knows how they should move, so I figured he wouldn’t like that, for sure. He told her to whoa, and handed her lead back to the white-haired man. I started to edge away, then was surprised as all get out when Dad stooped to look at her feet again.
All this time, Mr. Long craned his neck, gawking this way and that at the crowd milling around the sales yard.
Dad straightened, eyed the mare for a minute, and said, “I’ll give you twenty-five for her.”
"Action and adventure also abound! There's a flood, snow-trapped cattle, a lost child, and a terrifying trip across a frozen river to save a man's life. Dan Graham is certainly an interesting and exciting character. Ginger Gold has all the precious elements to make it a worthwhile book!"
"No one at the Bonney City horse sale is impressed with the skinny, neglected sorrel named Ginger, but most of all Dan. To his dismay, his dad sees something special in her kind face and excellent conformation, and because his dad is a top-notch farrier and knows more about horses than he does, Dan doesn’t argue with him when he chooses her as his first horse. Come to find out, Ginger is not the old nag she appears to be and is hiding a big secret for Dan and his father. This coming-of-age historical novel not only gives readers a compelling story about a boy and his horse, but also a cautionary tale about prejudice toward others from different cultures. Little Dan Graham is growing up in the Puget Sound at the turn-of-the-century. The industrial revolutions brings the introduction of the horseless carriage -- the automobile -- and the settlement of the west brings immigrants from Ireland and China creating a melting pot that eventually boils over in the small lumber towns of Greenfield and Bonney City, Washington. Evlin’s amazing attention to detail lends authenticity and realism to this wonderful horse story." Peggy Tibbetts -- Managing Editor & Columnist for Writing-World.com and Author of THE ROAD TO WEIRD and RUMORS OF WAR
"Ginger Gold succeeds in telling an entertaining story while educating young readers--a task at which so many authors fall short. I was reminded of the brilliance of Richard Adams' Watership Down or of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. Ginger Gold has the same sparkling combination of animals, bright dialogue, and good heartedness. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone with children. Its a great bedtime story, as well as a book that children can read and enjoy on their own. Good work, Ms. Evlin! We look forward to the further adventures of Dan and Ginger!" Roundtable Reviews
“Author Frances Evlin has created a wonderful, historical American tale sure to appeal to readers of all ages, although the book is offered as a young adult novel. You will appreciate this story not only for the content, with its loving empathy for the great equines, and not only for the essential goodness of the leading members of the plot – but for absolutely beautiful writing quality. Evlin’s style is straightforward and her lines offer perfect clarity. The dialogue is crisp, with just the occasional old time word or phrase to lend that air of the past.
This is written as a straightforward, personal account, and is very believable. The protagonist – Little Dan – is motivated first by a need to show off for his buddies. However, his own natural sense of fair play and empathy for an animal soon outweigh his initial reluctance to claim the paddle-footed mare, Ginger Gold, as his own. It is easy to understand his emotions, and you will often feel that a decision of his is just what you would have done. Little Dan is also sensitive to his father’s lingering unhappiness… yet he cannot put aside his grief for his mother enough to see how much his father’s potential romance might make them both less sad. Other serious themes are considered within the tale like racism and other prejudices. Small details of the history involved (the west, 1900) enrich the quality of the action.
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 252
Paper Weight (lb): 10.8
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