Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dirt by Denise Gosliner Orenstein - OPTIONAL

Dirt by Denise Gosliner Orenstein, 214 pages. Scholastic, 2017. $17.

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG



Yonder’s mom has died four years earlier and her dad has withdrawn into his room and the bottle. She knows that even her screams would not bring back her mom and has decided to stop using her voice completely. Now, however, bullies are riding her mercilessly at school, and the teachers do not see the abuse, blaming her for the ensuing disruptions. When she encounters a shaggy, fat, one-eyed Shetland pony who’s wandered into her yard from the neighbor’s to eat the pumpkin off her porch, she's found a soulmate. By week’s end, they are fast friends. The pony seems to be the only one who can hear her inner voice and respond to her needs. When Yonder is removed from her home by Child Protection Services, she is more determined than ever to save her pony from an awful fate.

This is an intriguingly quirky but emotionally sad story. Inviting your best friend into your home, even though he is a fat pony, is quirky. Being removed from your home due to neglect and malnutrition is sad. Despite such heavy circumstances, there are moments of humor and interesting freshness. It is a gritty realistic fiction book without gritty language. The violence comes in the form of bullying, and mistreating animals. While most of the characters are not very fully developed, Yonder's adventure is crazy, showing extraordinary effort, ingenuity, and courage in the service of her animal friend. 

P. K. Foster, teacher-librarian

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