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|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Series:||Backyard Horses , #4|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||6 - 10 Years|
About the Author
Dandi Daley Mackall is the author of numerous books for children, including Larger-Than- Life Lara. She lives in West Salem, Ohio, with her husband and their three children.
Read an Excerpt
By Dandi Daley Mackall
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Dandi Daley Mackall
All right reserved.
Ellie James and her famous horse, Dream, have ridden for miles and miles. Ellie sits tall in the saddle, not looking like the shortest kid in fourth grade. Finally she sees the pet store, home of the international Pet Help Line. A crowd comes running out to greet Ellie and Dream. A tall boy with long hair shouts, "Far out! You made it, man! Groovy!" Ellie would recognize Catman Coolidge in a heartbeat, even if he weren't carrying four fat cats. And she knows at once that the dark-haired, freckle-faced girl next to him is Winnie the Horse Gentler. Winnie leaps onto her white Arabian, Nickers. Then Winnie and Ellie ride off into the sunset on Nickers and Dream.
Something hits me in the head, knocking me out of a great daydream and back into my classroom. I spot a paper wad on my desk. I don't have to look far to see who threw it. Colt Stevens, my most-of-the-time best friend.
I spread my hands apart, palms up. It's sign language for What? Colt and I learned sign language so we could talk to Ethan, my little brother. But knowing sign comes in handy at school, too.
Colt faces Miss Hernandez, our teacher. Then he sticks his hands behind his back and signs to me, You're next.
I touch my chin and bring my hand down, signing, Thanks. Colt can't see me, but my mom says being thankful is like breathing. You might not notice when you're doing it, but you sure miss it when you aren't.
"Ellie and Cassie?" Miss Hernandez smiles our way. She has a great ponytail. It swishes behind her. After today, we only have one more day of school before summer will be here and Miss Hernandez won't be our teacher anymore. I'm going to miss her. One of the best things about our fourth-grade teacher is her ponytail. But there are lots of other best things too. Like her laugh. And the way she doesn't yell, even when she's mad. And how she doesn't make us feel stupid if our work isn't as good as somebody else's, like Larissa's.
Cassie stands up. She jerks her head for me to join her in front of the class.
I shake my head. "You're the spokeswoman," I remind her.
Cassie giggles, sounding a little nervous. "Ellie and I split the work on our blog project. Ellie collected all the recipes for horse treats. We made them together and tried them out on real horses. But Ellie did most of the work on the recipes. So you're stuck with me as spokeswoman."
The class laughs, in a nice way. Everybody loves Cassie. I'm lucky I got to be her partner for our final project—creating our own blog. The best thing about Cassie, besides that she has a horse named Misty, is that even though she's one of the most popular kids in our school, she doesn't act like it. When Miss Hernandez paired us up to develop a blog for our class project, Cassie seemed honest-to-goodness happy to be getting me for a partner.
"Well, it sounds as if you girls worked out your partnership very well," Miss Hernandez says.
Cassie smiles at me. "It was fun. Tell them how we came up with the idea, Ellie." I feel my face turn hot. But I don't really mind telling this part. "You guys know how skinny my horse, Dream, used to be."
"No kidding!" Larissa says. "That pony looked like a scarecrow."
Larissa Richland is as tall as I am short. She thinks she knows everything about horses. But I don't see how she can know that much because she doesn't take care of her horse. She lets a fancy stable do everything for her. The best thing about Larissa is ... well, I guess it's that maybe she won't be in my fifth-grade class next year.
"Larissa," Miss Hernandez says, "it's not your turn now, is it?"
"No, Miss Hernandez," Larissa answers. "But on my blog—I mean, Colt's and my blog—we're always looking for funny stories to tell. So we might want to write about how animal control had to chase that scraggly pinto all over the school lawn."
With her teacher stare, Miss Hernandez gets Larissa to stop talking. Only it's too late. Larissa already got my mind off track. Now all I can think about is the day I first saw my horse out this exact same school window. Everybody thought it was just my imagination. But it wasn't.
Who could have known that the skinny horse I saw that day would end up being my very own Dream?
"Ellie, please go on," Miss Hernandez says.
But I can't go on because I don't remember where I was.
Colt signs, Skinny pinto, needed treats.
"Right!" Now I remember. "Skinny. When I got Dream, she was so skinny you could see daylight through her. Not really. But that's how my mom put it. She also said my horse was so skinny she disappeared when she turned sideways."
Larissa fake gags.
"Once I brought Dream home, I had to fatten her up," I continue. "We used special feed, and that worked. But I started searching the Internet for horse treat recipes. Some were awful. They used peanut butter, and that's not great for horses. Then I found the coolest thing. A pet help line. Several kids get together to answer questions about animals. They've got this guy named Catman who knows everything about cats. And this kid Barker answers all the dog questions."
Larissa yawns. It's as loud as the fire alarm.
"Anyway, a girl named Winnie knows more about horses than anybody in the world, I'll bet."
"I'll bet," Larissa mutters.
I press on. "Her recipes for horse treats were the best."
Cassie takes over. "We're not using anything without permission. Winnie wrote back to Ellie and said she could use the recipes. We give Winnie credit on our blog. Plus, we blog about how our horses liked the treats."
"Good job, girls," Miss Hernandez says. She calls the next team and the next.
Larissa and Colt go last.
Larissa starts to get up, but Miss Hernandez stops her with that look again. "Colt, let's hear from you first. Tell us about your blog."
Colt looks like he wasn't counting on this. "Well, Larissa wanted to call it Starring Larissa, and I didn't care. So that's what it is. Her mom's helping us a lot with all the blog and computer stuff. She's got lots of ideas."
Miss Hernandez tugs her ponytail. "So your blog is about Larissa?"
Colt shrugs. He told me he didn't care what it was about. He just wanted school to end.
"It's not just about me," Larissa says. She stands and walks to the front of the room. "Starring Larissa is fun, entertaining, and educational." She glances at her note cards. "Just click on 'The Larissa Show' and read about horse shows. You can see pictures of my trophies and ribbons. Click on 'Larissa's Logic' for advice about horses and anything else. Or read 'Larissa Laughs,' and you may find a good joke or story." She looks at me. "That's where I could write about Ellie's little pony."
Larissa knows Dream isn't a pony. She's a horse—a beautiful pinto horse. Larissa just calls her a pony to make me mad.
But too bad for Larissa. Even she can't get me upset on a day like this. There's too much to be thankful for. Tomorrow, Saturday, I'm going on a trail ride. Monday is the last day of school, thanks to only one extra snow day this winter.
Colt and I have better things to do than worry about a blog. Summer will be filled with trail rides, horse shows, early-morning breakfast rides, and moonlight horse strolls.
Nope. Even Larissa Richland can't mess up a summer like that.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.... But even if he doesn't ... we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18
Excerpted from Night Mare by Dandi Daley Mackall Copyright © 2012 by Dandi Daley Mackall. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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