Reviews for Gee Whiz

Booklist Reviews 2013 October #2
Bookish, horse-loving young teens are well served by Smiley's series featuring Abby, who lives with her Fundamentalist Christian family on a Carmel, California, horse farm. The titular horse is a giant white former race champ that is stabled with Abby's family while his owners decide on his next "career." Now in her first year of high school, Abby's attention is divided: along with Gee Whiz, True Blue and Jack (two previously series-featured horses) are in her family's stables; and changes arrive at her church, with the death of a longtime leader, and in her family, as her older brother is drafted during the Vietnam War. Slow, steady plot pacing introduces younger readers to adult-style literary fiction. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Abby (Pie in the Sky) is growing up, which means she has some hard decisions to make regarding her family farm and the horses in her life. Readers will come away with more horse knowledge than they had before, while episodes involving school and friends, the elders at church, as well as authentic details about 1960s California, keep this series humming.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #6
Abby, the sensible protagonist of Smiley's horse girl series set in 1960s-era California (Pie in the Sky, rev. 9/12), is growing up, which means she has some hard decisions to make. The head of the riding stable where Abby teaches wants to buy True Blue for use as a lesson horse, but Abby's not sure she's willing to sell. The partial owner of Jack, the orphaned thoroughbred colt Abby bottle-raised, wants him sent to the track for training, but racing training is too expensive for Abby and her family. And a new horse, Gee Whiz, arrives at Abby's family's farm, this one a retired racing thoroughbred, extraordinarily tall at 17.1 hands, very curious, and capable of opening gates by himself. Abby's older brother Danny has just gotten his draft notice for Vietnam, and Abby is determined to keep Gee Whiz and train him for Danny until he returns ("Something to come home to, then," Danny says). In addition, episodes involving school and friends, the elders at church, and authentic details about life in the 1960s keep this series humming. Horse-loving readers will come away with more horse knowledge than they had before (in particular, how to catch a horse that's gotten loose from the pasture), but most will keep following the series just to hear how their levelheaded friend Abby is getting on. Art not seen. anita l. burkam Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 August #2
Abby Lovitt's newest horse brings her a taste of the wider world. Handsome, intelligent Gee Whiz, recently retired, raced successfully all over the country, and Abby loves to imagine the things he's seen. Meanwhile, her brother looks to be heading into the Vietnam War, her friends Barbie and Alexis come home from boarding school, and a beloved church member dies. Abby's awash with change--but if that weren't enough, the man who co-owns her young horse, Jack, wants to start his race training, which Abby and her family can't afford. Smiley's Abby Lovitt books (Pie in the Sky, 2012, etc.) have always been especially anchored to time and place. Beautifully written as always, this installment is especially satisfying for the way it shows Abby's curiosity and sense of wonder naturally unfold. Also as always, the horse details continue to fascinate. Another successful visit with Abby Lovitt and her horses. (Historical fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 December

Gr 5-8--In 1966, Abby lives on a ranch in California where her family trains and sells horses. In this fifth story about her, she interacts with the yearling Jack, destined for the track; Beebop, a rodeo bucking horse; and Gee Whiz, a big ex-racehorse that may have jumping talent and is very clever at opening closed gates. The teen's life revolves around her church, some activities with friends, and taking care of the horses. Various characters drift in and out of the narrative. An elderly man at her church, Brother Abner, shares stories with her about the world, which help her to start thinking about more than her present life. The dilemma of the Vietnam draft is briefly touched upon concerning her older brother, Danny. Abby is a smart and appealing protagonist, but the novel moves slowly; it is like reading a person's daily blog rather than an exciting or unexpected story. Even her relationship with Gee Whiz never seems fully realized.--Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA

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VOYA Reviews 2014 February
When this series began in 2009, Abby was in seventh grade. In this fifth book, she is a ninth grader in 1960s California, living on her family's horse farm where they buy, train, and sell horses. One of Abby's problems is her ambivalence in selling "her" horses after she becomes attached while training them. Most of this story deals with her high school friends, giving riding lessons, horse exercising, and follow-up visits to other horse-training facilities. The title horse, Gee Whiz, is curious and intelligent but plays more of a role toward the end. Throughout is the worry about Abby's brother Danny's scheduled draft notice and physical exam for Vietnam. Smiley is adept at portraying daily life, seemingly as if nothing eventful is going on, but subtly the reader can feel the tensions underneath. What will happen with Danny? Should Abby sell her horse Jack or invest in retraining him as a racehorse? What will become of Gee Whiz if/when her brother goes to Vietnam? For someone who has never left home, Abby wonders what the rest of the world is like. One elderly church member begins to open her eyes when he relates stories about his past traveling around the country. Her mind opens to possibilities. This gently written story may lack enough punch for some readers, but horse-mad girls and those who have read Smiley's previous books in the series will want this one.--Jane Van Wiemokly 3Q 2P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.