My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Torden, Hear the Thunder” is a delightful story about eleven-year-old Niesje Brouwers and her powerful, high-stepping Friesian horse. Niesje, who is helping her aunt and uncle for a year on their Dutch farm, discovers a seriously wounded black stallion on the property. While her uncle is dubious about the horse’s chance of survival, Niesje is determined to save it; ultimately, a strong bond is formed. While the Brouwers don’t know where the horse came from, the reader knows it has survived an explosion on a World War I battlefield in Belgium.
While this historical novel was written for children 9-12 years old and older, it’s an interesting story for adults and young adults, especially those who love Friesian horses and/or who are attuned to the world of dressage The story focuses on Niesje, farm life, and her developing friendship with Torden. She worries about being allowed to participate in dressage–for which she must ride astride in an “unladylike manner”–and about what she will do when it’s time for her to leave the farm and go back home where there is no provision of keeping the horse.
C. Kirkham, who has written a realistic and accurate book, ends up indirectly teaching the reader a lot about a horse breed that almost became extinct. And then, in the final climatic chapters, an unexpected adventure teaches Niesje more about the world’s dangers than she expected to learn.