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Ok, I read this one a LONG time ago and have been looking for it ever since. It was in my elementary school library.

What I recall: -brother and sister live with their mom on a plain at the foot of the mountains, there is a mountain pass that leads to a magical land, guarded by soldiers -their dad snuck through the pass and hasn't been seen since so they decide to go and rescue him

I honestly don't recall a lot of the story itself except that there is a witch in a tower who captures the sister, the boy tames a "sun horse", they ultimately succeed.

Hopefully this is enough to spark someone's memory!

  • How long ago did you read this? A specific time period could be helpful. – Adamant May 27 '16 at 6:34
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    Could it be The Sun Horse? Seems unlikely (not brother and sister, etc), but there is a witch, a sun horse, a boy and a girl, and of course a missing father. Also mountains. – Adamant May 27 '16 at 6:35
  • It could be--I read this a good 20 years ago, so my memory is very shaky on it. I am Canadian so it's probable this was the book! – Sunsward May 27 '16 at 17:55
  • OK, I'll post it as an answer later today. Stay around so you can look at it! – Adamant May 27 '16 at 17:56
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This could be The Sun Horse

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This book, written by Catherine Anthony Clark, was published in Canada in 1951. That makes two points in its favor:

  • Published a long time ago
  • The OP is Canadian and read it in elementary school, so probably in Canada

From Goodreads:

Set in the province of British Columbia, Canada, the protagonist is an orphaned boy, Mark, sent to live with his aunt and uncle. In his new school, he befriends a girl named Giselle. Her father has mysteriously gone missing, following a hunting trip during which Giselle suspects that he was trying to capture the beautiful and mysterious Sun Horse, which local legends identify as living in Forgotten Valley in the mountains.

Of course, Mark and Giselle decide that they are going to find and bring home Giselle's father. Their adventures include making friends with a bat (whom Giselle is surprised to find she can communicate with telepathically), meeting the Marsh Witch who takes care of the swans and runs around the marsh on her stilts, and asking for assistance from the local Indian tribe.

The Marsh Witch is particularly fun--she uses cobwebs and captured dreams to make sky ropes which can lasso clouds. She then climbs the ropes and rides the clouds to see what is going on in the valley. Although she looks scary in the beginning, the children discover that she is really a caring woman and a great ally.

  • The father of one of the main characters has disappeared:

    Her father has mysteriously gone missing....

  • There is a Sun Horse:

    ...the beautiful and mysterious Sun Horse....

  • And a witch:

    ...meeting the Marsh Witch who takes care of the swans and runs around the marsh on her stilts.

  • There is a hidden magical land in the mountains:

    ...living in Forgotten Valley in the mountains.

  • And of course, there are two children, a boy and a girl. They aren't siblings, though, and the boy lives with his aunt and uncle, not his mother.

There aren't any soldiers mentioned in anything I saw, but there are is a Native Canadian man whom I believe might guard the Sun Horse.


More information

There are characters called the Flame Lighter Woman and the Bat:

There they meet strange people like the Flame Lighter Woman and the Bat, and have many adventures.

The main antagonist of the story appears to be the Thunderbird:

The children's search leads them to the domain of the Thunderbird, an evil creature whose lofty perch affords it considerable protection and power over creatures below. The children overcome their fears and eventually undertake the dangerous climb to the Thunderbird's nest. They are thus able to rescue Giselle's father.

More details, along with a few excerpts, are also given in this academic work.

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