She was an old horse, but she could still run like a champ. Grampa warned him to be careful with Beauty, but Luke didn't listen. He'd told her all about his hopes, dreams, and fears -- secrets Beauty would never reveal. She was his pal, who went skinny dipping with him in forbidden ponds and galloping after cattle in dangerous cowboy games he knew he shouldn't play. Until the night of the wild storm, when Beauty raced through the barn doors he'd forgotten to close into a terrible trap, and Luke ran into the blinding rain desperate to save the best friend he'd ever have... School Gr 4-7 His mother's failed marriage and a forced move to his grandfather's Oklahoma farm infuriate 11-year-old Luke. Beauty, an elderly mare, becomes his confidante as he adjusts to a rural lifestyle. Beauty also functions as a lovable equine counterpart to cranky Grampa. Grampa teaches Luke resilience and determination, while the horse teaches him horsemanship skills. In this first-person narrative, Luke comes across as a believable character, who's impulsive, obstinate, and narrow-minded. Wrapped up in his own problems, he's slow to accept the teachings of Grampa and Beauty. However, when Beauty suffers a tragic accident, Luke proves himself man enough to put her out of her misery. Wallace's ``life goes on'' theme makes this a timeless story, its mood somewhat reminiscent of the boy/animal relationships in Mary O'Hara's My Friend Flicka (Harper, 1973) and Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows (Doubleday, 1986). Despite Beauty's death, a happy ending matches Luke with the mare's young granddaughter. Wallace's smooth writing effectively balances action scenes with Luke's thoughts to involve readers. The short, cinematic chapters might attract reluctant readers. Charlene Strickland, formerly at Albuquerque Public Library , N.M .