My local paper Champaign-Urbana News Gazette reviewed my book and that made me really happy! Especially since it was my friend and colleague, Ruth Siburt, who wrote the review: Deb Aronson of Urbana is one fresh voice in the world of middle-grade nonfiction. Her debut book, “Alexandra the Great,” is a 2017 release from Chicago Review Press. “Alexandra” tells the story of filly Rachel Alexandra’s rise through difficult circumstances to world fame.

I really really enjoyed this review by a 10-year-old reader at

Here is another very positive review – This one in the El Paso Times. The reviewer says:

“Alexandra the Great is a book that will move readers and will help people understand just how great Rachel Alexandra was” and “Now that the Triple Crown is upon us, this is a good time to reflect on horse racing history…”

VOYA, a YA book trade publication, had this to say about Alexandra the Great:

Aronson does an amazing job of combining knowledge of the sport, interviews with experts, and perfect descriptions of action to create a story that even readers with little interest in the sport will love. Readers who have no knowledge of horse racing will learn from the behind-the-scenes details and interviews with the people who worked closest with Rachel Alexandra. Packed with action scenes, Aronson’s biography shows how truly exciting the world of horse racing can be, using the story of the record-breaking filly who beat all the boys.

Kirkus Review

Aronson writes primarily from personal interviews she conducted with the horse’s many owners, trainers, and riders—including jockey Calvin Borel—and includes black-and-white photographs, a glossary of racing terms, an index, and a full bibliography. 

Smile Politely

This is a wonderful book about one of the great stories in American sports. It is one for readers from pre-teens who will love it because it is exciting and easy to read, to adults who will love it because it is exciting and takes them deeply into the realistic world of high-level racing via this rags-to-riches drama….Don’t know much or care much about racing? Doesn’t matter. You will as you read through this book, which you will probably not want to put down or put down only because you might want to savor it….This book did what all good books do; it takes you there and, in this case, rubs your nose in the mud of an off-track or helps you fly down the stretch of a fast surface as if you were the jockey piloting this champion and not just the reader. When I finished this fine book, I indeed felt like I was racing more than reading. Hop on board.

Full Review:

El Paso Times

Alexandra the Great is a book that will move readers and will help people understand just how great Rachel Alexandra was. She was all heart, determination and focus, while possessing great athleticism and a tremendous amount of grace.

Not all athletes who are role models have to be human to inspire us and Rachel Alexandra is a perfect example of that. Now that the Triple Crown is upon us, this is a good time to reflect on horse racing history and why not start with the story of Rachel Alexandra

Full review:

Midwest Book Review

“Especially recommended for children ages 9 to 13, ‘Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly Who Ruled the Racetrack’ will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to elementary school and community library collections.”

Full review:


“Bottom line: Deb Aronson’s Alexandra the Great is a good read–touching, suspenseful and uplifting—a tale for the ages. We may never see another filly like Rachel and it’s good to have her story shared with young readers, accompanied by a complete glossary of terms.”

Full Review:

Midwest Book Review

“Alexandra the Great is an incredible underdog story that offers a glimpse into the demanding world of thoroughbred horse racing, and is highly recommended not only for young adults and high school library collections, but also for horse lovers of all ages.”

Full review:


Booklist Online: “Especially Notable New Titles”

“Secretariat, Seabiscuit, and Man o’ War are some of the most recognizable names in horse racing —and all were winners as colts. This uncommon biography not only focuses on another race horse champion, but a filly that defied odds from the start. Born in 2006 in the Kentucky bluegrass region, the heart of American horse racing, Rachel Alexandra was initially rejected by her mother and suffered an early injury that made many question her racing future. Aronson balances descriptions of the thoroughbred’s unique temperament and long, easy stride with her meticulous training. In the process, the author reveals the fine blend of art and science that goes into developing a winner. The most exciting parts, of course, are Rachel’s record-breaking wins; as the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years and the first filly to ever win the Woodward, her impressive victories also inspired human feminists across the county. Whether a horse enthusiast or new to the sport, there’s much to learn from Rachel’s story. 

Full review:


Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly Who Ruled the RacetrackPhoto by Jo HookerNew book for young readers chronicles Rachel Alexandra’s racing career Rachel Alexandra and Jockey Calvin Borel are led in the saddling paddock, by groom Rubin Flores (Photo by Jo Hooker)

“Featuring vivid details gleaned from interviews with Rachel Alexandra’s owners, veterinarian and beloved jockey Calvin Borel, and including a glossary, Alexandra the Great gives young readers — horse lovers, athletes and anyone who loves a success story — an exciting and emotional look at both the humans and horses who pour their hearts and souls into the world of thoroughbred training and racing.”

Full review: