Gabriel’s Horses

Category: Series: Racing to FreedomThemes: Animals
The year is 1864, and a young Kentucky slave dares to pursue his dream of becoming a jockey.
  • Price:
  • ISBN: 9781561453986
  • Publication date: 04/01/2007
  • Page Count: 160
  • Size: 5-1/2" x 8-1/2"
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • ISBN: 9781561455287
  • Publication date: 02/01/2010
  • Page Count: 160
  • Size: 5-1/2" x 8-1/2"
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • ISBN: 9781561457526
  • Publication date: 07/15/2013
  • Page Count: N/A
  • Age Range: 8-12
  • Price:
  • Age Range: 8-12
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The year is 1864, and a young Kentucky slave dares to pursue his dream of becoming a jockey.

Twelve-year-old Gabriel loves to help his father—one of the best horse trainers in Kentucky—care for the thoroughbred racehorses on Master Giles’s farm. But the violence of war disrupts the familiar routine of daily life on the farm. When Gabriel’s father enlists in a Colored Battalion, Gabriel is both proud and worried. But the absence of his father brings the arrival of Mr. Newcastle, a white horse trainer with harsh, cruel methods for handling horses and people.

Now it is up to Gabriel to protect the horses he loves from Mr. Newcastle and keep them safely out of the clutches of Confederate raiders.

Alison Hart mines the complex relationships of the Civil War in this gripping work of historical fiction. Young readers will experience the danger and drama of a time when war split the country and human beings were segregated into owner and owned based on the color of their skin. Background historical material and photos are included.



Alison Hart


A former teacher, Alison Hart is the author of more than sixty books for young readers.


“At the core of this stirring historical novel is the question of what freedom means…The boy’s first-person, present-tense narrative brings close the thrilling horse racing—on the plantation, at the race course, and in the war—and the African American history in all its complexity.” ―Booklist

“[A] fast-paced tale…. Readers will find this wonderful blend of history and horses appealing.” ―School Library Journal

“Hart’s knowledge of horses and her careful research into racing history enrich every page of this nuanced novel.” ―Washington Parent


Texas Bluebonnet Award (Master List) ―Texas Library Association 2008-2009

Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Top Pick, Middle School/Junior High) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2008

Kentucky Bluegrass Awards (Master List, Grades 3-5) ―Kentucky Reading Association, Kentucky School Media Association, 2007-2008

Flicker Tale Children’s Book Awards (Nominee, Juvenile Books) ―North Dakota Library Association, 2008-2009

Golden Sower Award (Nominee, Intermediate) ―Nebraska Library Association, 2010-2011

KSRA Young Adult Book Award (Nominee) ―Keystone State Reading Association, 2008-2009

Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award (Nominee, Grades 6-8) ―State Library of Louisiana and Louisiana Center for the Book, 2010

Mark Twain Readers Award (Nominee) ―Missouri Association of School Librarians, 2009-2010

Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award (Nominee, Grades 6-8) ―Florida Association for Media in Education, 2009-2010

West Virginia Children’s Book Award (Nominee) ―West Virginia Library Commission, 2008-2009

Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee, Intermediate) ―Association for Indiana Media Educators, 2009-2010

Lamplighter Award (Nominee) ―Children’s Crown Award 2007

Horned Toad Tales (Nominee) ―Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District 2008-2009


Resources: Teacher's Guide

Teacher’s Guide

More Details

AR Level: 4.6
F&P: GRL V, Gr 5, Genre HF
Lexile: 730L
Themes: African-American History, Civil War, Horses
BISAC 1: JUV016200 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
BISAC 2: JUV011010 JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / United States / African-American
BISAC 3: JUV002130 JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Horses