Horse Diaries: Bell's Star by Alison Hart (Published by Random House, March 24, 2009)
Bell’s Star, or Star as the family he works for calls him, is born in the spring of 1850 on a Vermont farm where a mother and father live with their young daughter, Katie. From the start, young Katie loves Star, and has a strong bond with the horse. Star likes Katie and her family, but he hates work and wishes he could just run free, a longing that Katie often shares as she must do many chores around the farm to help her family.
Three years pass, and it is now the spring of 1853. The Fugitive Slave Law recently became law, and now it is a crime to help runaway slaves escape to freedom in nearby Canada. When Katie is riding Star in the woods, she finds Eliza, a young slave girl who is trying to escape to Canada where she hopes to find the family she was recently separated from. Katie decides she must help Eliza find her mother again, and she needs Star’s help to do so. She must keep this a secret not only from slave catchers but her own family, who would not want her involved because it is dangerous to help a runaway slave.
Bell’s Star is a very sweet and simple read that is sure to be enjoyed by the target audience of young readers, particularly girls, who enjoy horse stories or historical fiction. The story is fast-paced and teaches history painlessly, and I love the illustrations, they are completely adorable. If you know a young reader who loves history or horses this would be a great book to recommend or to give as a gift.