The Phantom Rider

Our rating: ***

Tim Cottrell enjoys riding his beautiful horse Whiskbroom cross-country, but he dreams of finding someone to ride with him. The feed man tells him about a supposed ghost horse and rider who have been sighted in the vicinity. But before Tim can try to track down the rider, his sister Leona introduces him to a girl named Kate, who loves horses, but says she won’t ride them. The two of them decide to start a riding stable and purchase a stubborn little donkey named Eloise. Once they discover how to keep Eloise from balking, they hire themselves out to give rides to children. During all this, Tim is still determined to catch the phantom rider. Then he discovers a beautiful Arabian mare named Gray Cloud. He’s sure that if Kate had a horse like that, she’d be willing to ride, so he attempts to buy the horse and discovers several secrets.

This is one of those books where the kids try to “gray over” things and rationalize their disobedience. I do appreciate the way the ghost horse and rider turn out. Eloise is rather cute, and Tim’s cross-country chasings of the phantom rider are fun. Any of you swash-buckling types who got your hopes up when I mentioned secrets, sit back in your chairs. They’re more ordinary and practical. For instance, why is Gray Cloud’s saddle dry when the caretaker claims he rides her daily? That sort of thing. That being said, it’s a fair book. I read it in one day.

Henry Reed’s Journey

Our rating: *****

Henry Reed is coming back to Grover’s Corner, but in a whole new way. Instead of flying directly to Grover’s Corner, he’s going to San Francisco, where his friend Midge’s family is. They all plan to drive back, across the continent back to New Jersey. But with Henry and Midge having a way of starting innocent accidents, and souvenirs for their travel museum piling up, Mr. Glass might not survive to drive them home!

Personally, this is my favorite Henry Reed book. Everywhere the car stops, Henry and Midge cause an accident or get pulled into something. From Midge starting a gold rush, to Henry saving a hotel swimming pool, Henry Reed’s Journey is a definite winner. Too bad it’s out of print.

Henry Reed, Inc.

Our rating: ****

Henry Reed’s father is an American diplomat to Italy, so Henry hasn’t ever seen the USA. This year, his Uncle Al and Aunt Mabel invite him to stay in Grover’s Corner, New Jersey, for his summer vacation. Being an industrious young man, Henry and the neighbor girl, Midge, start a research firm, Henry Reed, Inc. But Midge isn’t a full partner until she can catch the rabbit she promised to the firm. Henry thinks catching it will be easy, but this bunny has a mind of its own!

Henry Reed, Inc. is a hilarious string of events, some resulting from the pursuit of the rabbit. Henry and Midge also have to battle the grumpy Apples, the next door neighbors to the firm, making for even more fun. The silliness continues in four more books about Henry’s attempts to make money during the summer.