An energizing middle-grade tale inspired by true events.
Real-life princess Haya Bint Al Hussein is only 3 when her mother, Queen Alia of Jordan, is killed in a helicopter crash. Grief and a nasty governess (who adds fabulous tension to the story) subsume the princess until her father, King Hussein, gives her a 3-day-old orphaned foal from his stables for her sixth birthday. Haya and the foal, whom she names Bree—short for Bint Al-Reeh, or “Daughter of the Wind”—go on to compete, six years later, in Jordan’s prestigious King’s Cup. The present-tense, third-person narrative (except for two first-person epistolary segments) rivets readers as they learn about the inside world of a 12-year-old-to-be Jordanian princess—that and the horsey element would, by themselves, guarantee an audience. But Gregg goes much further, showing readers a strong-willed but compassionate girl who understands that her royal blood is not about privilege but about caring for others and who discovers her own inner strength in her determination to follow her dream of competing (lessons that stretch far beyond the royal set). It’s also a refreshingly active story—Haya is riding and leaping and playing outdoors (when she’s not grounded) on nearly every page.
Empowering and vigorous, this is a story sure to please princess fans, horse fans and, yes, even tomboys. (Fiction. 9-13)