June 4, 2015
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Wonder Horse by Anita Daher,
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Fitting into a new school in a new city isn’t easy, but dreams come true for Sera with a gift from her parents: a gorgeous and spirited American Paint horse. Sera’s bubble bursts when a mean girl, Brittany, tells her that neither she nor her less than well-trained horse belong with the rest of the “reiners” in their riding class. As Sera sets out to prove Brittany wrong, she risks losing her passion for training and the friendship of Dev, another girl who truly understands her.
An earlier version of this story was originally published by Stabenfeldt (Stavanger, Norway) in 2011 as Wager the Wonder Horse and distributed in six languages: Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Finnish and Swedish.
From the moment I agreed to compete in the winter show, I have lived, breathed, and sometimes even eaten barn dust. Two weeks into it, I feel like I’ve crawled up and down a mountain on my hands and knees. I have never been so tired—or so saddle sore! Nat and Brit pick me up every night right after supper. We groom, ride, groom again, then I’m home doing homework.
I give Dev a sleepy smile from across the cafeteria room table. We’ve started eating in the caf instead of the art room at my insistence. I suggested Dev treat it as a social experiment—or more fodder for life drawing. Today, I’m thinking lunch would be better on the couch in the office. Lying down. Last night I was so beat that I fell asleep while talking on the phone with Dev, of which she is taking great pleasure in reminding me.
“Do it again and I’ll do a subliminal thing,” she teases. “I’ll give you all the wrong answers for your Social Studies exam.”
“I’ll say them over and over and over and they’ll imprint in your brain. Think how impressed Mrs. S. will be when you write your essay question on how World War I started over a Scrabble game gone bad.”
I grin. “The way you play, that’s almost believable.”
Suddenly, Brittany is there. “Come to the library, Sera,” she says, offering a bright smile. “I’ll show you some reining patterns so you’ll know what to expect in the show.”
This is about the last thing I want to do right now, but the Snow Slide will be here before I know it—just two and a half more weeks! I’m grateful that Brittany has been so nice about helping me. It’s as if just because I said I would do the show, I’m suddenly worth talking to. It’s kind of fun, actually, because Brittany hangs with a more popular crowd at school. It’s not that I want to be one of them, but . . . I don’t know. I can’t really explain it. “Okay.” I turn to Dev. “You want to come?”
Dev opens her mouth to answer, but before she does, Brittany rushes, “She’ll only be bored.” Then she loops her arm in mine, and steers me toward the door.
I look over my shoulder and mouth “sorry” to Dev. She shrugs and waves a hand like she wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out with someone like Brittany. But I think I see something else in her eyes and feel a pang of guilt.
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