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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Spirit of the Saluda River by Diana Tuorto is an empowering journey based on a true story. A horse, soon to be called Spirit, loved giving rides to children but when he began losing his eyesight, his owners decided to get rid of him. Spirit was abandoned, left without food and water in a bare field. As he breaks his way out of his enclosure, he discovers water in an unlikely place and without realizing it crosses the Saluda River. He finds sanctuary on the island but struggles to find grass anywhere. Eventually, he is discovered and rescued by a woman named Nancy who rehabilitates him with affection and food. This lovely story follows Spirit’s journey of survival as he discovers a new place to call home.
The story is told from the perspective of Spirit, a horse that embarks on an inspiring journey of survival. His life slowly changed as he began to lose his eyesight, a situation that Diana Tuorto captured with empathy, allowing you to feel his frustration and pain. The story is heartbreaking as this horse is cast aside and left in a field, unable to see where he is. This will tug at your heartstrings and his plight will resonate with children of all ages. His journey has themes of resistance and determination as Spirit refuses to give up. The rest of the story focuses on Spirit’s rescue and rehabilitation, which is a great representation of what animal rescuers accomplish. Children will enjoy the happy ending when Spirit gets a second chance at life with a caring home that loves him for who he is. The story is empowering with a great message that parents and children can learn together. The illustrations are lovely and unusual with a sketch style that pairs well with the story and depicts Spirit’s journey. Spirit of the Saluda River will touch a lot of hearts in an endearing tale that serves as the perfect introduction for small children to learn about what animal rescuers do.