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Secret of the Night Ponies by Joan Hiatt…

Secret of the Night Ponies

by Joan Hiatt Harlow

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1002180,974 (3.88)None



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Newfoundland story. quite a page turner. need a glossary at times. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 7-9

Plot Summary: Jessie and her family live about 6 miles from the closest town; their boat through rocky waters is the fastest way to get them there. When Jessie is visiting with her friends one day so she can see their house floated over from the island to the town, trouble surrounds her. Mike Hawley falls in the water and gets badly injured after teasing her, causing his mean parents to blame Jessie even though it was his own fault. When Jessie witnesses her friend Clara being abused, she brings Clara back to her house. Her family is very supportive and works together to hide Clara from her mean adoptive parents. Jessie continues to get in more trouble with the two meanest men in town, Melloy and Jack, when she decides to work with her friends to move the horses they plan to sell for horse meat to Lonesome Island.

Setting: Newfoundland, 1965

Jessie Wheller - 13 y/o but doesn't like to be considered a child anymore
Erik - Jessie's older brother, likes to tease his little sister about not being able to drive the boat or being old enough, but is nice to her and stands up for her when it really matters, becomes friends with Ned
Blizzard - Jessie's dog
Raven - Jessie's horse
Mr. Blair - Jessie and her family rescued him from a shipwreck during a horrible blizzard, elderly
Donald Anderson - shipwrecked, lawyer who researches Clara's situation when he finally returns home, turns out to be the Minster of Justice but the Whellers don't know that when they take him in after the shipwreck
Ned - Donald's son, shipwrecked, becomes friends with the Whellers and is excited to come back next summer once school is out
Gran - usually sour and cold to Jessie but knows what she's doing, lost her husband and brothers in a shipwreck on Lonesome Island
Walt Wheller - Jessie's dad, fisherman who usually goes away during the summers but buys a boat with his friends so they can stay closer to home with all the trouble brewing at home
Irene Campbell - the local teacher who wants Jessie to come to school even though she lives too far away
Meta Rideout - friends with Jessie
Polly and Trudy Doyle - twins, friends with Jessie
Clara Cadigan - 7 y/o, living with foster parents who abuse her
Henrietta McCrumb - Clara's ma, sweet to adults but abuses Clara
Melloy McCrumb - Clara's dad, bully and mean
Mountie - policeman, nice to the Whellers
Mrs. Chase - owner of bakery
Jack Hawley - friends with Melloy, also a bully, blames Jessie for what happened to Mike
Mike Hawley - pushes Jessie and gives her bad splinters in her hands to tease her, then goofs off on the harbor and ends up falling in and getting hurt badly by the boat coming in, Blizzard rescues him so he doesn't drown, but there is blood everywhere, everyone says he got what was coming to him, but they feel bad and hope he's ok, might lose the use of his arm
Sandra - 15 y/o, Jessie's penpal in Boston, calls her a cousin but they're not related
Margie - Jessie's friend, becomes crybaby during horse rescue

Recurring Themes: superstitions, animal rights, fishing, boats, family, shipwrecks, ghosts, myths and tales, bravery, right vs. wrong, bullying, dog, horses, family, friends, relocation

Controversial Issues:
some description of Mike Hawley's accident and the blood everywhere

Personal Thoughts: This book had an excellent start but then there were times where I felt like the characters were not authentic because they were explaining important frameworks about the setting. Bravery is the biggest theme and could be a major topic of discussion.

Genre: historical fiction, adventure, animals

Pacing: starts off very fast with shipwreck rescue, then slows down significantly for the rest of it, with some faster parts
Frame: authentic dialect is used and may confuse some kids but does add to the story

  pigeonlover | Jul 27, 2011 |
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In 1965 Newfoundland, thirteen-year-old Jessie's brave and impulsive nature leads her to commit a variety of daring acts, including rescuing a herd of wild ponies and kidnapping a poor orphan girl who is being mistreated by her guardians. Includes factual information about the history of the Newfoundland pony.… (more)

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