208p. Boyds Mills. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629798806.
Joni is looking forward to summer on her family's Vermont sheep dairy farm, riding her headstrong pony Archie, volunteering at the local horse rescue, and going to 4-H summer camp. There's even a new girl from California who has moved in down the street, and Joni hopes they might be friends. But the new girl, Chess, has some strong opinions about animal welfare. She's a vegan, and her family doesn't believe in "keeping captive animals." Most worrying of all, she thinks the two healthy miniature horses who live next door, old Mrs. Abernathy's driving pair, need to be "rescued." When Chess does take action, her ignorance about horse care endangers the objects of her misplaced compassion. Through the sometimes-strained friendship that grows between the two girls, Haas explores many views on animal welfare, from mindful eating to sustainable farming to working animals to animal rescue. Each perspective is offered with minimal editorializing, allowing readers to decide for themselves what they think is reasonable. The story's thoughtful examination of the mutual dependency between animals and humans will engage animal lovers and ethicists alike. anita l. burkam

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