Thursday, May 03, 2018


Haas, Jessie. Rescue
10 April, 2018 by Boyds Mills Press
ARC provided by the publisher

Joni has a not-so-typical (for suburban or urban kids!) life in Vermont. Her father runs a farm that makes sheep's milk cheese from their own flock, and Joni is involved with riding Archie and participating in other horse related activities, like helping out at a nearby horse rescue center with her friends. During the last three days of middle school, a new girl moves in. Chess (Francesca) is from California, and is shiny and citified. Joni strikes up an uneasy friendship with her. They are neighbors, but Chess has no qualms about yelling at a neighbor who is using Shetland ponies to haul a log. Chess thinks it is animal cruelty. She doesn't understand very much about working farms or working animals, and we soon find out that her vegan activist lifestyle was cultivated by her beloved grandmother, a grandmother with whom she is not supposed to have contact because of some spectacular animal rights stunts. Joni tries to explain the realities of caring for animals, along with the fact that sometimes animals have to be restrained for their own good, but Chess won't listen. Joni is a bit uneasy about hanging out with Chess, but tries to be patient and connect over shared interests, like the new kittens on the farm. When Chess takes some matters into her own hands, animals are endangered, and Joni manages to save the day. Will it be enough to regain her neighbors' trust?
Strengths: It was a good idea to introduce the differences about farm living by having a character from the city experience them for the first time. There are lots of good details about how to care for animals, different activities on a working farm, and also lots of fun facts about horses and horse riding. Joni's family is delightful-- the mother and father are both alive and involved in positive ways, and there are two older sisters who are role models for their younger sister. There are horses and kittens, and lots of good details about how to clean horse tack. Chess' motivations, while misguided, are understandable.
Weaknesses: Chess is really not a pleasant character at all. I would have liked this a little more if she had been more pleasant, but still misguided. Since she's not the main character, and because Jess comes out looking like such a well-raised and understanding child when dealing with her, she's not a horrible inclusion. I still would have been happier if she had been slightly more pleasant but still misguided.
What I really think: Since there are a very small number of books about horses that come out every year, I am always looking to expand my collection. I don't have many readers for these books right at the moment, but when I get those readers, they require a lot of books. This is an excellent investment to fill that niche.

Ms. Yingling

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