Antonia and the Big Competition is the second book in the Rosenburg Riding Stables series. Originally written in German and translated into English, the series follows a 10 year old girl gifted with horses. The writing is simplistic, intended for a grade school audience, and admittedly lacks personality. I read this to my 10 year old and although it is a quick 100 page read, it also failed to capture her interest.
Story: Antonia has a special bond with her two horses, Snow White and Elfin Dance. When she is invited to compete in a prestigious jumping competition with Elfin Dance, she worries she will be outclassed. Add in a jealous rival, and Antonia will need to find the courage to show her best – for a horse magazine wishes to do a story on her and the Rosenburg stables and a lot rides on how well she does.
The heart of the story is Antonia finding courage and strength in the face of the daunting competition and her trash-talking rival jumper. Friends and family come to the rescue but ultimately Antonia finds her own balance and is able to make a good show of herself. I liked that she doesn’t have to win the competition but an unexplained event at the end just dangled and was described as ‘luck’ when it likely was meant to be a moral story about mean girls.
The book has illustrations throughout (the cover is representative of the illustration style). Oddly enough, some of the illustrations didn’t represent what was written – e.g., Antonia describes how she carefully made herself up for the competition to represent her stable well, including braided hair. But the illustrations all show her with a ponytail. My 10 year old daughter picked up on that immediately and it did create a dissonance.
The English is correct but also lacking flavor. This may be due to the translation from German but it does read more like a textbook version of a character rather than an actual person. So while my 10 year old read it, she admitted it did get boring and flat. I also noticed the very distinct lack of personality in all the characters.
This is a 3.5 star book for me. Definitely not terrible but a rather flavorless translation and the odd disconnect between illustrations and story did detract a bit from my 10 year old’s enjoyment.
Reviewed from an ARC.