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  • Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs
  • Written by Kate Klimo
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Written by Kate KlimoAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Kate Klimo

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On Sale: January 24, 2012
Pages: 384 | ISBN: 978-0-375-98542-3
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

A new character joins the ranks of pwerful, kick-ass heroines such as those written by Tamora Pierce, Kristin Cashore, Esther Freisner, and Robin McKinley—Malora Ironbound. A great read also for anyone who loves horses and the Greek myths.

Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

Kate Klimo has masterfully created a new world, which at first seems to be an ancient one or perhaps another world altogether, but is in fact set on earth sometime far in the future.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1
Jayke’s Rope
 
            For as long as she can remember, Malora has dreamed of dancing with horses.
            “Daughter of the Mountains,” Malora’s mother calls her, for her skin and hair are the dusky red-brown of the rocks, and her upturned eyes—so like her father’s—are the vivid blue-green of the nuggets of malachite that dot the streams running down from the peaks. But when Malora hears her-self so called, she frowns. “No!” she insists. “Not the mountains! I am the Daughter of the Plains.”
            For the horses come from the plains.
            These are the days when the People occupy the Settlement, a mere one hundred men, women, and children living together in a canyon in the shadow of the mountains that rear up over the plains running to the north. From this canyon, the men ride out on horseback every dawn to hunt, leaving the women to keep the houses and raise the children. Like all the women, Malora’s mother has a secondary job, and hers is healer. She expects her daughter to follow in her footsteps, as she has in those of her own mother, and so on, as far back as any of them can remember, to the time of the Grandparents. Malora is an only child, as well as the sole survivor of a juvenile epidemic that wiped out all the children born within three years of her. Many in the Settlement believe that it was her mother’s skill at healing that saved Malora and, while no one can prove it, her mother’s witchery that killed all the others. Malora knows this to be ridiculous, but it has discouraged her from pursuing the healing arts.
            Malora’s father, Jayke, is a master horseman, and what she wants, more than anything, is to ride and hunt as he does, wheeling about and charging off, bow and arrows strapped to her back. As fond and indulgent as he is of Malora, Jayke does his best, without being unkind, to discourage this ambition in her. No one knows better than he how dangerous horses and hunting can be. His broad-shouldered, rangy body, with its white scrawl of scars writ large, its litany of broken bones, and its nearly constant com-plaint of aching joints that only his wife’s herbal liniment can satisfy, is testimony to this fact. Malora likes to point to each scar and get him to tell her the story behind it; the stories, after many tellings, are pared down to a kind of point-and-response game:
            “Horse kick.”
            “Boar gore.”
            “Bull elephant tusk.”
            “Rhino charge.”
            Malora, a sturdy and independent eleven years old, tags along behind Jayke like a barn cat as he inspects the horses for ticks. “Run along and grind herbs with your mother. Do you want to end up like the Simple One?” he asks her.
            The Simple One is Aron, whose horse, spooked by an asp, bucked him when he was a child, cracking his skull like an ostrich egg against a sharp rock. Ever since, Aron has been as simple as a five-year-old, though he has retained enough sense to be an adequate stable boy and an oddly fitting companion to Malora. While their actual age difference is fifteen years, she has outsmarted him since she was three. Yet there are things about horses he can still teach her. Things like: “Never feed a horse at the same time every day, Malora. If the horse knows the food is coming, her stomach will start a-boiling and bubbling, and before long she’s burned a big hole in it. If she doesn’t know when the food is coming, her stomach simmers down and she waits.”
            Or: “Never come up on a horse you don’t know when he is at his feed. He’ll think you’re trying to take it away from him, and he might attack you.”
            Or: “Never try to catch a horse who is all stirred up. Ignore her for a while and pretty soon she’ll walk right up to you.”
            “I wouldn’t mind being like Aron,” Malora says to her father. “He gets to sleep with the horses.”
            “What about Stumpy Eld?” Jayke asks. Stumpy Eld lost the tips of the fingers on one hand to the gnashing teeth of an angry stallion.
            “He came at the stallion with an open palm,” Malora says. “How many times have you told him never to do that?” And then there is Gar, Jayke’s best friend, whose limp is the result of the lightning-quick kick of a feisty mare.
            “Horses kick,” Malora says with a world-weary sigh worthy of Jayke.
            “My point exactly! You can never be too careful around horses,” Jayke says, “and no one can be careful all the time.” “I can be at least as careful as you,” Malora says, indicating with her little finger the head of a tick he has missed.
            All else having failed, Jayke says, “Look at these brutes,” pointing to the two long rows of bobbing horse heads facing into the stable aisle. As if to illustrate his point, one of them lands a thunderous kick on the side of the stall. “And look at you. How do you expect them to pay you any mind when you’re no bigger than a rabbit?”
            Malora has seen rabbits streak across the paddock and send the horses into a tail-whipping tizzy until Jayke goes among them and gentles them with his low, steady voice and his large, rough hands with their blunt-tipped fingers. Only Jayke can enter the paddock when they are riled, because he has made himself one of them. He is, in a manner of speaking, the lead horse. One day, the horses will follow her lead the way they do her father’s. Meanwhile, Malora, side by side with Aron, peers through the slats in the training-pen fence and watches Jayke work.
Kate Klimo

About Kate Klimo

Kate Klimo - Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs
Tales of a Fourth Grade Fantasy Writer
It all began in the fourth grade when my best friend, Justine and I--inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia, Curdie and the Princess, The Wonderful Journey to the Mushroom Planet, the books of E. Nesbit (and countless other works of fantasy recommended to us by our imperious rouge-cheeked librarian, Mrs. Thackeray)--embarked upon a fantasy epic of our own. We wrote our epic in multi-colored inks (Justine had gotten this nifty set of colored plastic quills for her birthday) in a series of classic black and white composition notebooks, whose white spaces we colored in so that every time we touched them, we got rainbows on our fingertips. I can’t remember the plot but I do know that it featured a cast of unicorns, elves, fairies, and an evil magician whose name, Pezlar, was inspired by our favorite candy. Our characters lived on islands that were shaped in their own likenesses; for instance, the unicorns lived on an island shaped like a unicorn head, where there was, naturally, a Cape Horn and a Beard Bay. Whenever we had writer’s block, we simply drew maps. We were writing (and drawing), not so much for posterity as to conjure a world that, we fervently hoped, would one day open its magical portals and take us in. The world shimmered with latent magic and we lived our days in a state of heightened expectation. When would the magic reveal itself?

Those Magical Oldsters
Taking our cue from the Professor in the Narnia books, Mary Poppins, and Mrs. Pigglewiggle, old people were especially magical to us. Ike Raff, the grumpy old man who owned the cigar store; Charlie Hicks, the seven-foot-tall homeless man who marched in the Memorial Day parade in a full Cherokee regalia, and even the scary Mrs. Thackeray were, we suspected, distinguished emissaries from magical lands. To their credit, they played it straight when, with burning intensity, we asked them such questions as, “Where do you really come from?” and “How did you get here?” “Did you fly, teleport, or use a traveling spell?”

Step right up to the Museum of Magic
Magical talismans were vitally important to us. We collected beach glass, horse chestnuts, antique buttons, old coins, and even a green crystal doorknob. And, yes, we had our own Museum of Magic that we set up in Justine’s side yard, which was just across the street from the beach. I say we set it up. I’m not sure we ever had any paying customers. We were raising funds so that we could buy the fabric to make long hunter-green capes with hoods. These were the outfits we planned to wear when we passed through the magical portals. We must have raised the funds somehow, because we actually stitched up the capes on my mother’s sewing machine. How proud we were of them! So you can imagine how crushed we were when we wore them into town one day and somebody asked us which 4-H troupe we belonged to.

Magical Portals
We looked everywhere for them: Mr. Raff’s cigar store (where we would later buy our Beatles fan mags), an old wooden boat house down at the beach, an abandoned rococo-baroque Victorian mansion near my house just bristling with magical possibilities.
One Friday night, before our favorite TV show, Twilight Zone, came on at 9:30, we took a candle and some matches and made a pilgrimage to the Victorian mansion. It was a cold and windy night, I recall, and when we spied a broken window off the porch, it seemed to say to us, “Trespass, please!” With lit candle, we solemnly walked from room to room, searching for the portal. When we got to the third floor landing, the candle suddenly flared up and then guttered. We screamed and tore out of that place back to my mother’s warm, safe kitchen. Magic, we concluded, was sometimes a pretty scary proposition. We steeled ourselves and determined to make a return trip to the ruined mansion. We never managed that second trip because a wrecker ball rolled in and leveled the site of our closest brush with magic. A branch of the U.S. Post Office took its place and, although we never attempted to break in (Federal Offense!), we did loiter in the foyer, searching for magical signs among the Wanted Posters and the public notices.

Adolescence Rears Its Ugly Head
Looking back on those years, I see that, for us, magic was a kind of pagan belief system. It was both an affirmation of and an escape from life. But maintaining our belief system was not always easy. It was often downright burdensome. We had our rituals to observe, and our obligations, too. (We held weekly classes for our stuffed animals in the faerie arts, complete with lesson plans and demonstration models). Our beliefs isolated us from the other kids (who already suspected we were more than a little bit tetched). There came a time when a kind of low-grade dread began to steal over us; dread of the day when, like Susan Pevense, we would wake up and want to wear lipstick and stockings. And of course, that day did dawn, slowly enough to be agonizing. It started with the Beatles. We simply redirected all that magical intensity in the direction of the Fab 4. Instead of believing in portals, we believed we would one day not only get to meet them, but get to marry them (Justine, John; me, Paul). After that, it was a just small step to wearing lipstick (well, Mary Quant lip gloss, in any case), stockings (fish net), mini skirts (tweed and veddy British) and, before we knew it, we were looking back on our days of magic with patronizing fondness.

Reader, I Wrote
When I grew up, I still wanted to write but writing for children seemed, well, childish. I determined to be a writer of Adult Books, and succeeded (on a very modest level). But what can I tell you? The lack of magic in the adult world, as much from a reader’s standpoint as a writer’s, eventually got to me. I missed the magic, and years later, here I am, drawn back to its portals. I even find myself believing again. I believe that the world in which we live, the world of consensus reality, is but one small room in a mansion full of rooms. I believe that writing and reading are two surefire ways to get access to the other rooms. And nowadays, it is my sole ambition to grow up to be one of those old people who just might be mistaken for a distinguished emissary from a magical land.
Do I fly, teleport, or cast traveling spells?
The answer to all of the above is yes!
Praise | Awards

Praise

VOYA, February 2012:
"The first volume of a trilogy, the novel serves as an introduction to Malora and her world as she discovers and is accepted by the centaur society...[T]he setting is intriguing, and enough pieces are moved into place to entice the reader to return for the next chapter."

Tamora Pierce, bestselling author of Terrier:
"A wonderfully developed world, a determined girl hero, and a rarely covered subject—I was glued to every page."

Esther Friesner, author of Nobody's Princess:
"...takes you to a vividly realized world of wonders, dangers, and adventures with a thrilling conclusion that leaves you eager for more." 

The Bulletin, February 2012:
"In the vein of Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword."


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2012 Kid's Indie Next List "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"

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