In this coming-of-age story perfect for horse fans, twelve-year-old animal lover Joni clashes with her new neighbor and animal rights activist Chess. Their bumpy friendship reaches a crisis when Chess stages an impulsive animal rescue, and Joni must act fast to save the animals’ lives.
Shy Joni loves her family’s Vermont sheep farm and her strong-willed horse, Archie. When ebullient Chess moves nearby, Joni is drawn to her big personality. However, Chess’s opinions on animal rights, global warming, and responsible farming soon have Joni both questioning and defending her family’s farm. But when Chess steals miniature horses from their neighbor to “rescue” them, Joni is challenged to find the courage to stand up to Chess. In this complex tale of bridging differences and finding your own voice, two friends nearly break their friendship before they can begin to rebuild it.
“(A)n excellently written coming-of-age and friendship story…I had trouble putting it down. I believe many readers will enjoy the deep characters and suspenseful plot.” – School Library Connection
“(The) first-person voice is fresh and true…Haas…explores the issue of animal rights with sensitivity to both sides. A satisfying read.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Haas explores many views on animal welfare, from mindful eating to sustainable farming to working animals to animal rescue. Each perspective is offered with minimal editorializing, allowing readers to decide for themselves what they think is reasonable. The story’s thoughtful examination of the mutual dependency between animals and humans will engage animal lovers and animal ethicists alike.” – The Horn Book