Dirt has problems of his own. He's overweight, he's always in trouble, and his owner is the mean Miss Enid, who doesn't have the patience for a pony's natural curiosity. His only friend is Yonder, the scrawny girl next door.
So when Miss Enid decides to sell Dirt for horsemeat, Yonder knows she has to find a way to rescue him. Even if that means stealing Dirt away and sneaking him into her own house. What follows will make you worry, will make you cry, and will ultimately fill you with hope, love, and an unshakable belief in the power of friendship. Especially the four-legged kind.
Emotional Middle Grade Read.
After Yonder's mom dies, she and her dad are struck with grief and have trouble picking up the pieces. It doesn't help that Yonder is also being bullied at school. She makes friends with the neighbor's Shetland pony who seems to be going through a rough time too. The pony is overweight and dirty, thus earns the name Dirt.
Yonder learns that her neighbor wants to sell Dirt for meat, and she needs to do everything she can to keep that from happening. After being suspended, Yonder takes advantage of that time to sneak Dirt home. But will it be enough to save him? With the possibility of being taken from her own home, nothing is certain.
DIRT is a heavy read that takes on several issues such as bullying, grief, having a social worker involved, and it draws out several different emotions. I think it's appropriate for older middle grade readers. The connection between Yonder and Dirt is sweet, but the grittiness they go through to stay together is rough.
Final Verdict: I would recommend this to fans of sensitive topics, emotional reads, horses, and finding a bond that's unbreakable.