A Way With Horses - My first published novel, 1996 Caroline grew up around horses and had been a tough, skilled rider as long as she could remember. When she wins a rodeo near her Millarville, Alberta home, the owner of a posh riding school recognizes her talent invites her to learn show jumping, free of charge.
Soon she’s moving in a different world, full of thoroughbred horses, expensive trainers, and rich, sophisticated students. As Caroline trains to try out for the Jump Alberta Team, however, she learns that success in the show ring comes at a high price, win or lose.
A Way with Horses shows how one athlete’s ambitions can come into conflict with the complexities of her sport.
Reviews: "McPhee's heroine is an encouraging role model for young girls." Deborah Dowson - Canadian Book Review Annual
"First-time novelist McPhee writes well about the equine aspects of the story... horse-crazy readers in Grades 4-6 will doubtless enjoy the subject matter." Annette Goldsmith - Quill & Quire
"[A Way with Horses] deals with complex themes of friendship and integrity while also delivering an exciting story featuring show-jumping competitions and the intrigue behind the scenes at a riding stable... the general flavour is very upbeat and humorous... the competition and show-jumping scenes are fast paced and dramatic and will definitely have every reader cheering Caroline on!" Margaret Duffy - Resource Links
Awards: Winner Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice Selection
Runner - my most controversial novel to date Kyle never expected to see Calgary’s hard side—its seedy neighbourhoods marked with trash-filled lots, abandoned buildings, abandoned lives. But when his 14-year-old sister Meghan runs away from home, he knows he has to track her down.
Soon Kyle discovers a dark world of after-hours clubs, desperate street kids, drugs and violence. As he gradually uncovers clues about Meghan’s whereabouts, he realizes that she is in grave danger and his search becomes an urgent race against time. Kyle is willing to do what it takes to save Meghan—but will it be enough?
Set against the gritty world of Calgary’s inner-city, Runner is a suspenseful story of a brother’s love for his troubled sister.
In 2006, Runner was pulled from a school in Medicine Hat, Alberta because it had been used in a class project. A young girl and her boyfriend murdered her family and her story had eerily similar aspects to this novel.
Reviews: Readers get a look at the darker side of life in McPhee's tale of a high-school football player who is searing for his runaway sister. ...A page-turner with no happy ending, this is a realistic picture of street life." School Library Journal
“Runner gives us a fascinating view of Calgary’s underside. Through skillful storytelling and strong characterizations, Peter McPhee has crafted an exciting read.” Monica Hughes
"...an exciting story of a life on the streets of Calgary. It is hard to put this book down once you start reading it because of the suspense that builds throughout Kyle's search for Meghan." Connie Hall - Resource Links
"The world of teen runaways that he has painted jumps to life. Dirt, crime, poverty, abuse, drugs, prostitution, violence - they're all there - without being unbearably graphic. The dialogue rings true. The plot moves along quickly. This is an easy book to read." Kristen Butcher - Resource Links
"Runner realistically portrays life on the streets and dispels any myths teenagers might have about 'living free'. The quality of writing is excellent, and this book should be in every junior- and senior-high school library... highly recommended." Brenda Baltensperger - Canadian Book Review Annual
Awards: Winner Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice Selection 1999
Out of Time - dealing with the horror of teen suicide. Members of Eileen’s tight-knit circle of friends have made a suicide pact. When her best friend’s body is discovered, it’s a race against time to find another missing teen and prevent another tragedy. Eileen finds an unexpected ally in Ron, one of a gang of bullies at school who always victimized Eileen’s group of “losers.” As Eileen and Ron frantically search, the reasons for the pact and its devastating consequences are revealed.
Reviews: This very suspenseful book by Alberta-based Peter McPhee has captivating qualities, making readers crave the information that contributed to the deadly pact." Kate Larking - Calgary Herald
"Out of Time is well-written, suspenseful, with characters that are appealing, convincing, and complex. Recommended for teens who like books with depth." Denise Moore - Hi-Rise
"Reluctant readers will be attracted to the quick pace." Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
"The thriller elements will keep young people reading to the finish line." Myrna Marler - Kliatt
Every Move - the terror of stalking based on a true story It begins with a chance encounter: teenage Emily and her friends come to the aid of a stranger who is being bullied by a gang. Emily forgets about the incident, but the young man she helped becomes fixated on her. Only when her real love interest is attacked does she begin to understand that the stranger's interest in her has become a full-blown obsession. Every Move is a realistic but chilling look at this threatening and all-too-common form of harassment.
Reviews: “Every Move moves along well, with a suspenseful buildup, and addresses a relevant topic. This would be a good paperback selection for a young adult collection.” Resource Links
"Peter McPhee wades into the murky waters of stalking in this short, accessible novel...McPhee nicely balances the up-to-date banter between teens with the hair-raising horror of an innocent girl's unawareness of her stalker. The mood is full of dramatic irony, with the reader gradually realizing that the trusting nature of Emily and her parents is going to result in tragedy." CM: Canadian Review of Materials
Awards: Winner Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice Starred Selection 2006
New Blood - my most autobiographical novel to date After a gang of thugs beat him up, Callum's parents decide they've had enough of Glasgow's tough streets and move the family to Winnipeg. Still healing from his injuries, Callum also has deep inner scars that will make his new high school, in this new country, even more of a battleground. New Blood is an edgy yet moving account of violence, bullying, recovery, and hope.
Reviews: "McPhee is a talented writer and a good story-teller. Callum's story comes alive and it is one that many teens could relate to whether they have faced violence in their lives or not." Angela Thompson - Resource Links Volume 13, Number 3
New Blood is satisfying and well-written. While I'll keep any spoilers to myself, most readers will agree that even the best books about bullying tend to implode with a clichéd ending. Neither coated in cinnamon and sugar nor drenched in violence and bodily fluids, the ending of McPhee's novel is nicely restrained and believable. Shannon Ozirny is in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia, and is also the Coordinator for the Vancouver Public Library's Canadian Book Camp.