Book: Morena

Author: Peter Zachary Cohen

Illustrator: Haris Petie

Publisher: Atheneum, 1970

ISBN-13: 978-0689205958 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0689205953 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0689703539 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0689703538 Paperback

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Intended for ages 9-12, but I would say 12 and up

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Cohen, Peter Zachary.  Morena (Published in 1970 by Atheneum, New York City, NY).  Morena is a 24 year old cowhorse on the ranch of Marv and Debbie Hannum in the Finger Hills.  She is a stubborn old mare, and when Marv brings all his animals in before a big snow storm predicted for Halloween night, she runs off into the wilds.  Twelve year old Alex Jaynes lives  with his parents in nearby Belle Ore.  Mr. and Mrs. Jaynes are away at a conference, and Alex is on a Boy Scout Halloween outing at the Mallet Creek Camp Ground not far from the Hannum ranch.

However, the scouts have to cut their trip short due to the coming storm.  As the busses pull away, the one Alex is on stops so that the driver can get out to check on a mechanical problem.  At that moment, Alex, who has been sick to his stomach because of what he had eaten, feels the need to throw up and so exits the bus, which shortly thereafter leaves without him. The storm with its bitter cold and blowing snow comes on, but all of Alex’s equipment is still on the bus.  What does Morena do?  What will happen to Alex?  Is there anything that the shy horse and the sick boy can do to help each other to survive?

The tension and suspense of the story make for an interesting read. Kids who love horses and the outdoors will like this book, and while it is aimed primarily at boys, girls can enjoy it too.  Aside from some common euphemisms (heck, darn, gosh, dang), the term “God” is used as an exclamation, and I was especially disappointed that Alex used the word “dammit” a few times.  There may be a sequel.  An e-book entitled Morena Again by Peter Zachary Cohen was published in 2013 by Smashwords, but its description makes it sound a lot like the original.

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