The Hungry Place

by Jessie Haas (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

American Horse Publications' Fiction Award Winner

In this horse adventure perfect for fans of Black Beauty, a Connemara pony is pampered and beloved, then abused and neglected, until twelve-year-old Rae brings love to her again.

Princess lives a charmed life of brown sugar cubes, crunchy apples, sweet grass, and adoration. But it is a lonely life; her elderly owner keeps Princess separate from other ponies so his show-ring champion will remain pristine. When Princess's owner has a stroke, she is thrust into the care of an unscrupulous trainer and his wife, who steal from the farm and leave. Abandoned to starve with other, tougher ponies, Princess is bereft of all hope. Meanwhile, a girl named Rae wants a pony more than anything and is striving to make her unrealistic dream a reality. Rae and Princess need each other, though neither realizes this when they eventually meet. Rae must learn to see beyond Princess's scars and Princess must learn to trust again in order for them both to find their own hidden strengths and a home in each other.

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School Library Journal

Gr 3-5--Roland, the proprietor of Highover Farm, has bred some fine Connemara ponies over his long career, but Princess may be the finest yet. Pampered and expertly trained, Princess is a champion pony. That is not the type of pony that Rae, who has dreamed of owning a pony her whole life, wants. In part because she cannot afford a champion pony, but also because Rae wants one who is spunky like Radish--the pony she hopes to ride at the horsemanship camp she has been saving for. Princess and Rae seem worlds apart until circumstances bring them together. When Roland is taken from Highover in an ambulance, Princess is left out in a field with other ponies to fend for herself. Rescued, injured, and starving, Princess finds herself a camp pony paired up with Rae. Despite initial trepidation on both sides, Rae and Princess bond deeply. Could Princess be the pony Rae was meant to have all along? Roland, now recovering from his stroke, trusts that Rae and Princess are right for each other. Deep inside, people are hungry for a place of refuge that will help to make them feel complete; for Rae and Princess that place is filled by their love for each other. VERDICT A sweet story of longing, determination, and healing that will appeal to readers who enjoy tales of friendship and horses.--Jessica Caron, Bancroft Sch., MA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Finalist, American Horse Publications 2020 Awards

A sweet story of longing, determination, and healing that will appeal to readers who enjoy tales of friendship and horses. —School Library Journal

Tender-hearted readers (that is, all horse-loving readers) will...cheer Rae's persistence and faith in her dreams. Readers' sympathetic agony is eventually replaced with tears of happiness as Haas brings the story around to a rousing happily-ever after ending. —The Horn Book

This is a perfect title with positive role models and themes for middle grade readers. [The main character's] selfless actions demonstrate that a community is only as strong as its members. [R]eaders can [also] delve into the complex world of horse care, horse shows, business management, and animal cruelty. School Library Connection
Jessie Haas
Jessie Haas has written more than thirty-five books, most of them about horses. Her novels include Rescue, A Junior Library Guild selection, Shaper, which won a Golden Kite Honor Award, and Unbroken, which was a Publishers Weekly Best Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, and a CCBC Choice, among other honors.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Astra Young Readers
Publication date
October 20, 2020
Texas Bluebonnet Master List
2022 - 2023
American Horse Publications
Finalist 2020

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