Another misunderstood child. Another friendly stallion.
Young Ellie, still grieving her mother's death, is unhappy when her father takes a new job on remote Sable Island. This sand-shifting "Graveyard of the Atlantic," 25 miles long and one mile wide, causes multiple shipwrecks each year, and Ellie's father is joining a group of government rescue workers there. Ellie doesn't want to leave home, but within a few days of reaching Sable Island she's made friends with a wild stallion there. A few days after that, the villagers are holding their annual wild-horse roundup. Terrified that her new friend will be sold, Ellie begs her father for help. He suggests she—at 9 years old—lead the wild stallion to the far end of the island. Ellie does, and the stallion is saved (at least until next year). Hughes does well describing the physical setting but struggles with the temporal aspect. The author's note says the book takes place in the early 1800s, but the story and characters feel more modern than that. It's also hard to find the point—that Ellie doesn't want to leave her home? that the stallion shouldn't be captured?—and the pacing is far too abrupt for the emotional changes to be believable. It's too bad, because Sable Island itself is fascinating.
A few shipwrecks and less hand-wringing, and you'd have a good story. (Historical fiction. 7-10)