Written by Denise Gosliner Orenstein
What could go wrong when an eleven-year-old girl decides to move a Shetland pony into her bedroom? Not as much as you might think, since most of her problems have nothing to do with the pony.
Yonder loses her mother at age seven and quickly descends into a trauma-induced muteness. She’s left pretty much to her own devices, as her alcoholic father means well but is no help at all. Kids at school, realizing she won’t shout for help, bully her unmercifully. She manages to steer clear of social services until she decides to stop attending school. While Yonder’s at home, the neighbor’s fat and personable pony attaches itself to her. She names it Dirt and moves it into her house. Of course, social services intervenes at that point and Yonder is separated from Dirt. She must rescue Dirt from becoming horse meat.
The characters in this sometimes-sad tale are vivid and often hilarious, especially in Yonder’s head, as the story is told in first person. Yonder never fails to comment on the wardrobe and reactions of the social worker, Trudy Trumpet, aka Trudy the Terrible. Her new foster mother never fails to call her Yonder, dear. The vet is Dr. Jane or DVM.
Heartwarming and touching, the reader ends up cheering for both Yonder and Dirt. Yonder does end up having to accept reality, but she shapes some of that reality to suit her.
- Title: Dirt
- Author: Denise Gosliner Orenstein
- Published: Scholastic Press, 2017
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
- Grade Level: 3 to 7
- Genre: Fiction, Social issues, Animals
- ISBN: 978-0-545-92587-7