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About The Book

The Black Stallion meets Tamora Pierce in this adventure-filled middle grade novel about a young stable girl who discovers a secret that endangers her beloved horse and threatens her future.

Sonnia loves horses more than anything. She works at her family’s struggling pony ride business but dreams of the beautiful steeds in the royal stables, especially Ricochet, who she’s been slowly saving money to buy—even though she knows people from her impoverished neighborhood are rarely so lucky.

Then Ricochet is moved to the racetrack across town, and Sonnia lands a job there. Now, she can see Ricochet every day and earn enough money to buy him in no time—all while helping her family with her new wages! She even joins the junior racing cadre to train to become a jockey. But then she uncovers their secret pastime: competing in the Night Ride, a dangerous and highly illegal race in the darkest hours before dawn. Every race puts the horses at risk.

Sonnia wants to protect the horses she’s grown to care for, but she’s only a kid from the poor side of town—considered expendable, just like the horses. If she just keeps her head down, soon she can buy Ricochet and get him out of there—and keep supporting her family. But would she be able to live with herself?

About The Author

Photo (c) by author

J. Anderson Coats has master’s degrees in history and library science and has published short stories in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the acclaimed novels The Wicked and the JustThe Many Reflections of Miss Jane DemingR Is for RebelThe Green Children of Woolpit, and The Night Ride, as well as A Season Most Unfair. She lives with her family in Washington State. Visit her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (October 12, 2021)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534480797
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12
  • Lexile ® 820L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

"Sonnia is an engaging character with grit and determination. . . Engaging, true-to-life horse content will satisfy many."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Sonnia adores working with the horses . . . but she’s horrified to discover that the other stablehands compete for large sums in a dangerous and illegal nighttime race” . . . Coats’s fast-paced tale [absorbs] with meticulously observed horsey details and a tender interspecies relationship."

– Publishers Weekly

"Horse-lovers will sympathize with Sonnia’s ambition, her fierce protectiveness toward the horses, and her strong moral compass. Technical aspects of horse care are minutely and gratifyingly rendered. And not to spoil the ending, but when the drama comes to a rousing finish, fans of wish-fulfillment narratives will be smiling."

– Horn Book Magazine

Awards and Honors

  • Children's Sequoyah Book Award Master List (OK)
  • Mark Twain Award Final Nominee (MO)

Resources and Downloads

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More books from this author: J. Anderson Coats