Monday, February 12, 2018

Goodbye, Chocolate Charlie by Marga Jonker

This is the second Marga Jonker book I've reviewed – from the pile of titles that occasionally arrive unannounced at my front gate. Goodbye, Chocolate Charlie tells the story of Nicky, who is recovering from a terrible riding accident where her horse, Charlie, plunged to his death down a mountain.

While Nicky's physical scars have healed, her mental scars haven't – much to the despair of her horsey family who live on their big farm in the Cederberg.

But the first steps of Nicky's healing being when her grandfather buys a mysterious palomino pony at an auction, and she slowly comes to terms with the events that happened that fateful day.

Firstly, I'd say this is a book that will chiefly appeal to younger middle grade readers who're completely horsey. As before, Jonker shows that she's a keen observer of everything equine, so from that perspective, this is a lovely little book.

I did find the subplot with the girls coming to stay on the farm to finish their training for a big sporting event a bit tacked on, but the banter between the kids was mildly entertaining. Jonker touches on the work being done by the Cape Leopard Trust, which brings in a nice environmental angle, and also gives a nod to the TV documentary series 50/50.

The invariable big climax happens, but I kinda saw that one coming a mile away, and felt almost as if it was a bit too conveniently set up. There was a bit of misdirection in terms of the plot with regard to the way Nicky overcomes her fear of riding, which I felt was a nice touch.

There isn't much depth to this story, and its parts felt a bit too loosely stranded together for me to be doing backflips in frabjous delight. I'd peg this as *very* light reading, and happily pass this book on to younger readers who might feel differently.

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