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The Gift
Rebecca J. Hubbard
A novel about horses, friendship and patience.

All eleven-year old Pip wanted was a best friend. When Pip gets a horse for her birthday she is delighted. She thinks that the horse she names Buck will be her best friend the moment that they meet. But she finds out that friendship does not come easily. Her father gently guides her so that Pip can discover for herself how to make Buck a true friend.

Pip’s new friend, Buck, has a story of his own. After leaving his own herd, to move to Pip’s house, he is looking for a relationship that will help him feel safe. He, too, learns that making a friend takes patience and understanding.

Pip is an eleven-year-old girl who is happy when she receives a colt for her birthday. She names him Buck and sets out to make him her new best friend, since she naturally assumes she’s found one in her young horse. Pip grows increasingly frustrated when Buck pays little attention to her and gallops away whenever she gets too close to him. Pip’s dad helps her to understand that befriending a horse takes time and she needs to be patient. Will Pip and Buck eventually become friends? What if we could see the friendship progress not only through Pip’s eyes, but also through Buck’s eyes as well?

I loved this sweet and unique book! What a wonderful way to teach children about horses, friendship and patience! I adored the way the second half of the book is told from Buck’s POV. Brilliant! Buck’s descriptions of Pip as a “pipsqueak”, with a black mane and screechy voice made me chuckle. I’m certain children will get a kick out of this.

It’s obvious that Rebecca Hubbard knows a lot about horses. I’d never thought about seeing things from a horse’s perspective, but it makes perfect sense when it comes straight from the horse’s mouth. I could definitely see The Gift used as a stepping-stone when teaching children in a classroom setting, prior to beginning riding lessons or simply one on one at home. The illustrations are lovely and wonderful accompaniments to the story. I highly recommend The Gift!

Reviewed by Susan Barton for Goodreads 5 stars

Read an Excerpt

Pip’s Story

On my eleventh birthday, I got the coolest gift in the whole world...a horse! The horse was a scrawny, brown colt with a black mane. His tail was so long it nearly brushed the ground. Each of his legs had a black mark that looked like a sock. A white star on his forehead peeked out from under his long forelock.

I climbed up onto the pasture fence. “Hey, little guy!” I called. “Come here!”

His ears swiveled toward me, and he gave me a quick look, but he didn’t stop nibbling on the grass. He acted like I was just a beetle crawling by! If only he would raise his head to look at me, I was sure he would come over to say hello. But he just turned away, nibbling on juicy grass the whole time.

I wanted a horse more than anything in the world! I also wanted a friend. A best friend. If this horse wouldn’t be my friend, he wasn’t much of a gift. I was so upset I went back inside the house.

“Hey, Pip,” said Dad. “How’s the horse?”

When I shrugged, he put his arm around me. “What’s wrong?” asked Dad.

“The horse doesn’t like me!” I said. “He won’t even look at me.”

“Well,” said Dad, “if you want a friend, you have to build a friendship.”

“I just thought he’d like me right away,” I sighed.

“Friendships always take work,” said Dad.

Later that day I filled my pockets with peppermint candy and headed to the pasture. The scrawny colt looked up and walked toward me. As soon as he got close enough, he nosed my jacket. He frisked my pockets and found the candy. I was so happy!

I took a few peppermints out of my pocket and opened my hand. He sniffed them, then scooped them up with his lips. He ate them and looked for more. Each peppermint I gave him he gently took from my hand. I was delighted! He liked me! Now we could be friends. After he crunched up the last peppermint, he walked away. Not just a few steps, either. He walked almost to the fence on the far side of the pasture. That’s when I got angry. He wouldn’t even hang around! I went back inside.

“That horse,” I told Dad, “ate all the peppermint candy, then walked away. He doesn’t care about me!”

Dad gave me a funny look, the one he got before he told me something he thought I should already know. He said, “You can’t buy friendship, Pip.”

Buck’s Story

Then a high-pitched noise cut across the peaceful pasture. A tall, skinny girl with a black mane was standing on the fence. She was hollering and making such a ruckus I couldn’t enjoy that sweet, tender grass. So I walked down the hill to a quiet spot. But the girl kept yelling in that awful high voice. She made so much noise that I moved even further away. Only after she left could I munch in peace.

After my breakfast, I explored a little more. Maybe some of my friends had arrived but the girl’s shrieks had kept them away. I walked up one hill and down another. I trotted through the trees and galloped all the way around the pond. I looked everywhere, but I was the only horse in the pasture. Being alone made me sad. I wanted a herd to play with. I wanted to kick up my hooves and nip my young friends.

There was another reason I didn’t like being alone. Having other horses around would keep me safe. Being all by myself was hard and scary because I couldn’t watch out for all the dangers. Dogs or coyotes might wander into the pasture and chase me. Snakes might hide in the grass or under rocks. And mountain lions like to eat horses! Since I was alone, I had to be alert all the time. I couldn’t lie down to sleep because no one would stand guard over me. I’d have to sleep standing up!

Later the girl with the black mane returned. As she stepped into the pasture, the wind carried a sweetness to my nose. Was she the sweetness? I flared my nostrils to catch more of the wind. The closer I got to the girl, the stronger the sweetness grew. I walked as close as I dared and sniffed all around her. Finally, I sniffed her.

The sweetness drifted up out of a flappy thing that hung on her body. I sniffed the flappy thing until I found hard little treats hiding in there. They were white and smelled much better than the grass I’d had for breakfast! She put a treat in her hand and offered it to me. I sniffed it, then I ate it out of her hand. Her hand was warm and soft. I crunched each treat slowly to enjoy the way they melted in my mouth. They were delicious! The girl smiled. It was nice of her to share such wonderful sweetness.

When her pocket was empty, I walked over to a nice grazing spot at the edge of the trees. The girl stopped smiling. She stomped away like she was really angry. I wondered why she was so upset. She had been happy just a moment before. The day was beautiful, the sun was warm, and the breeze danced in a playful way. How could anyone be upset?

Fiction, Children's Chapter Book Length: 62 Pages

Release Date: August 10, 2015 ISBN/ASIN: 978-1515181835

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About the Author

Rebecca is a marriage and family therapist in Texas. She provides treatment to children and families who have experienced traumatic events. Rebecca writes fictional stories, as well as therapeutic stories that therapists can use to help children and families. Rebecca's first book, The Gift, is published by Ravenswood Publishing.

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