“We all have something we're hungry for,” says a character in Jessie Haas's new middle-grade novel, THE HUNGRY PLACE. Inspired by A LITTLE PRINCESS and BLACK BEAUTY, THE HUNGRY PLACE follows a pony's journey from the 'palace on the hill' to a humble, perfect backyard.
Princess, a champion Connemara pony, is cherished by her elderly owner Roland, but his over-protection leads to loneliness. Orphaned as a foal, she isn't allowed out in the field with the other ponies. The girls who ride her at shows are here today, gone tomorrow. Princess's heart aches for connection; even more so when Roland falls ill, and she is finally turned out with the field ponies by her unscrupulous trainer. When she's rescued, injured and starving, she finds herself paired at a horsemanship camp with Rae, a girl with a spine of steel who has always longed for a pony. Rae has convinced herself that she loves scruffy, fixer-upper ponies best, since she's sure that's the only kind she has any hope of affording. Princess, beautiful and aloof, doesn't speak to her heart at first, but their bond quickly deepens. Rae can sense Princess's fears. Princess will overcome all her anxieties to do what Rae asks. It seems like true love. But Princess already has an owner, who is recovering from his illness and unlikely to ever let her go.
School Library Journal said, “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.” The Horn Book (in a review still subject to edits) said, “Tender-hearted readers (that is, all horse-loving readers) will weep at Princess's peril, and even more, her loneliness, told from a pony's-eye view. In Rae's part of the story they'll cheer . . . Rae's persistence and faith in her dream. Readers' sympathetic agony is eventually replaced with tears of happiness as Haas brings the story around to a rousing happily-ever-after ending.”
The book was first written in 2008 and made the rounds of children's publishers. “Many an editor wept at her desk over it,” Haas says, “but they all turned it down. At last it found its way to Rebecca Davis at Boyds Mills Press, who understood that the story, then told primarily from Princess's point of view, needed Rae's voice to complete it. The major themes of THE HUNGRY PLACE are tenacity and the power of love. Ironically, that's what the book itself needed—my tenacity in staying with it for a decade, and the keen eye of an editor who truly loved it.”
Jessie Haas is the award-winning author of 31 children's horse books, including the Bramble and Maggie series, HORSE CRAZY!, and RESCUE. She lives in Vermont with husband Michael J. Daley, two cats, two hens, and two beautiful Morgan mares.
THE HUNGRY PLACE, Jessie Haas, Boyds Mills Press, 10/13/20, $17.99 hardcover, 215 pages, ISBN 978-1-68437-794-7 For Grades 3-5.
For more information please call or email Jessie Haas.
For a review copy or high-resolution cover image, please email Kerry McManus firstname.lastname@example.org