I have known a lot of kids in my life who have longed to own dogs or horses (or really any number of pet-types, really), but this book really surprised me when the idea of horse and dog began to mix.
Dirt (Lexile: 940; Interest Level: Grades 4-7) by Denise Gosliner Orenstein is a story about Yonder, an eleven year old who is trying to find her own way after her mother dies and her father sinks into depression. She notices that the Shetland pony owned by her neighbor has taken a liking to escaping and coming down to visit her house, so Yonder adopts the pony and calls him Dirt. Of course, when Yonder decides it is better to spend time with Dirt than attend school, trouble is bound to find her, and she must figure out how to protect herself, her family, and her pony.
This is a very touchy story about poverty, depression in family members, and trying to do the right thing. I certainly see why so many students who have read it have recommended it to me! (212 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.