A TELEGRAPH TOP 10 CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR

Fifteen year old Casey Blue lives in East London’s grimmest tower block and volunteers at a local riding school, but her dream is to win the world’s greatest Three Day Event: the Badminton Horse Trials.

When she rescues a starving, half-wild horse, she’s convinced that the impossible can be made possible. But she has reckoned without the consequences of her father’s criminal record, or the distraction of a boy with melty, dark eyes, with whom she refuses to fall in love.

Casey learns the hard way that no matter how high you jump, or how fast you gallop, you can never outrun the past.

The One Dollar Horse is a wish fulfillment book for me. Growing up on an African farm, I used to dream about winning the Olympic gold medal for eventing like Tatum O’Neal in International Velvet. We had eight horses, including my black horse called Morning Star, the son of a champion racehorse, who had been born in a rainstorm – I was there and covered him with my raincoat. To me, Star was the greatest horse that ever lived and it was only a matter of time before we got to the Olympics.

The best thing about growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere is that there’s tons of space and free wood, and loads of people to help you with crazy ideas. I persuaded my dad to build me a cross-country course in our 100-acre game reserve. It sprawled through the whole thing, and even incorporated a water jump. I used to race around the game reserve on Star, watched by our pet giraffe and the impala, dreaming of Badminton.

Quite apart from the fact that I wasn’t a good enough rider, Badminton didn’t happen because our farm was sold, we had no money, and because before very long writing took over from riding as my chief passion. But I love horses and eventing as much as I ever did. Writing The One Dollar Horse was my way of living out my dream through Casey Blue.

With all my books, I find that my characters become friends, and I’ve never felt that more strongly than I did with this novel. I pined for them when I’d finished it. For that reason and many others, I’m very happy that there are two more books in the series, Race the Wind, out on 4 April 2013, and Firestorm, out in April 2014.

“The One Dollar Horse is certain to be huge favourite with readers and will bear comparison with classic horse stories by authors such as Patricia Leitch and K M Peyton.”

Books for Keeps

“Lauren St John's The One Dollar Horse is rare among pony books in setting its dream-come-true story in inner-city London... Writerly, full of equestrian knowledge and rich in character - not least of the horse - this is also a tale of first love, and is a handsome package with deep pink-edged pages.”

Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times

“There are many twists and turns but the plot is easy to follow and gripping, I would recommend this book for girls aged from twelve through to adult. The author has a flowing style and an art for bringing her characters to life. ”

NewBooks Magazine

“Full of equine detail the book is definitely one for horse-lovers though the story is so strong that it will interest non-horsey types too. The underlying message is that a dream is achievable if you are willing to put in the hard work and make the sacrifices.

Carousel

“...one of the best characters in this thrilling rags-to-riches tale is Storm Warning. You can't help but identify with this courageous animal and St John makes you feel the thrill of what it must be like to jump over a fence on such a horse with such heart and soul. No nagging doubts, this book's a winner.”

Martin Chilton, Telegraph Online

“"It is National Velvet for the 21st Century and reminded me so much of the books I loved to read growing up. A breath of fresh air in a fairly serious teen market and no content issues to stop you recommending it to good readers aged 10+. ”

Sarah Clayton, Waterstones

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