Wild Girl
Wild Girl

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Annotation: When twelve-year-old Lidie leaves Brazil to join her father and brother on a horse ranch in New York, she has a hard time adjusting to her changed circumstances, as does a new horse that has come to the ranch.
Catalog Number: #52474
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition Date: 2011
Pages: 147 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-440-42177-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-51004-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-440-42177-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-51004-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2008047733
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Twelve-year-old Lydie has lived with her aunt and uncle for five years, ever since her mother died and her father and older brother moved from Brazil to the U.S. Lydie is eager to join them, but when she arrives, she feels ill at ease with her new language, her new school, and even her family. Dissatisfied with the old, tame horse her father (a trainer) gives her to ride, she sets her sights on Wild Girl, a touchy, spirited filly. Mistakes, misunderstandings, and moments of awkwardness seem insurmountable, but slowly Lydie begins to feel at home. Chapters of Lydie's sensitive first-person narrative alternate with vivid third-person passages describing Wild Girl's life. Readers who choose the book because of the horse on the jacket will find a satisfying girl-meets-horse story. Those looking for a convincing, sometimes moving immigrant story will find it here as well. But the heart of this accessible chapter book is its fine, perceptive portrayal of Lydie and her family.
Horn Book
Twelve-year-old Lidie, headstrong and impulsive, leaves Brazil and joins her father and brother in Queens, New York, where they train racehorses. Meanwhile, a filly is born in South Carolina. Together the two "wild girls," horse and human, figure out who they are and where they belong. Rich characters and raw, real emotions make this more than the usual horse story.
Kirkus Reviews
Five years ago, when she was seven, Lidie's mother died and her father and brother left to train racehorses in America without her. In Brazil Lidie could quarrel with her cantankerous uncle, sing in her aunt's colorful kitchen or gallop horses up and down the hills, but when she finally gets to America she can't find words to express her anger, longing and frustration. Her well-meaning brother has painted her new room candy pink and decorated it with baby pictures, which she hates, and her silent father buys a broken-down school horse to teach her to ride. At school her lack of English has mortifying consequences. Only in her father's unsettled filly, the aptly named Wild Girl, does she find a kindred spirit—and Lidie begins to think that if only she could ride Wild Girl, everything will be all right. As usual, Giff's characters are beautifully nuanced and entirely real, her prose is as streamlined and efficient as a galloping Thoroughbred and her quiet ending breaks your heart. A stakes winner. (Fiction. 8-14)
Publishers Weekly

In this tender if occasionally overdramatic novel, two-time Newbery Honor author Giff (Lily’s Crossing; Pictures of Hollis Woods) relates the analogous stories of a 12-year-old girl and a filly. Lidie moves from Brazil to New York to join her brother and horse trainer father, who had left their homeland years earlier. She knows little English, misses the horse she loved to ride and is angry that her well-meaning father and brother still treat her like a little girl (“They didn’t know me, not at all”). Lidie immediately bonds with Wild Girl, her father’s new horse, which she observes “had been born in the warmth of the South... and brought here to this cold world, just as I had.” There’s little subtlety in the parallels Giff draws between the two: Lidie’s late mother had called her “my wild girl” and, sensing the filly is lonesome, she thinks, “I knew how that was.” Yet readers will find Lidie a strong protagonist, her difficulty in adjusting to her new life credible and her eventual feeling of belonging—she finally feels at home when riding Wild Girl for the first time—gratifying. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)

School Library Journal
Gr 46 Twelve-year-old Lidie must leave her beloved home in Brazil for a new life in New York. She reunites with Pai and her older brother, who left shortly after Mamãe died five years earlier. Lidie's father and Rafael train racehorses for a wealthy benefactor. When she meets the filly Pai has dubbed Wild Girl, Lidie remembers her mother calling her by that name. The horse's story parallels hers, as they are both plunked down into an unfamiliar, sometimes harsh environment. But when at last Lidie rides Wild Girl, it is as if their spunky, spirited souls gloriously merge. This brief tale of the sense of powerlessness that accompanies childhood is magnified by the perspective of an immigrant girl. It also addresses the pain of separation from loved ones, and animal cruelty. These issues are dealt with in an evenhanded, never too sorrowful or desperate way. Readers will find hope and resiliency in this coming-of-age story. Tracy Weiskind, Chicago Public Library
Word Count: 26,091
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 4.0 / quiz: 131881 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.7 / points:7.0 / quiz:Q47470
Lexile: 640L
Guided Reading Level: S
Fountas & Pinnell: S

Sudden light burst against the foal's closed eyes. She needed to open them, and to get on her legs, which trembled under her. It was the only thing she knew, that struggle to stand.

And a feeling of warmth, the smell of warmth.

She opened her eyes and heaved herself up under that dark shape. Its head turned toward her, a soft muzzle, a nicker of sound.

Milk. Rich and hot.

She could see almost in a full circle. Another creature was nearby, its smell unpleasant, but she turned back to the mare.

When she was filled with milk, she leaned against the mare; she felt the swish of the mare's long tail against her face. She opened her mouth and felt the hair with her tongue.



My bedroom seemed bare without the horse pictures. Small holes from the thumbtacks zigzagged up and down the walls.

Tio Paulo would have a fit when he saw them.

Never mind Tio Paulo. I tucked the pictures carefully into my backpack. "You're going straight to America with me," I told them.

Everything was packed now, everything ready. I was more than ready, too, wearing stiff new jeans, a coral shirt--my favorite color--and a banana clip that held back my bundle of hair. My outfit had taken almost all the dinheiro I'd saved for my entire life.

"You look perfectly lovely," I said to myself in the mirror, then shook my head. "English, Lidie. Speak English." I started over. "You look very--" What was that miserable word anyway? Niece?

Who could think with Tio Paulo downstairs in the kitchen, pacing back and forth, calling up every two minutes, "You're going to miss the plane!"

I took a last look around at the peach bedspread, the striped curtains Titia Luisa and I had made, the books on the shelf under the window. But I had no time to think about it; there was something I wanted to do before I left.

I rushed downstairs, tiptoeing along the hall, past Tio Paulo in the kitchen, and stepping over Gato, the calico cat who was dozing in the doorway.

Out back, the field was covered with thorny flowers the color of tea, and high grass that whipped against my legs as I ran. I was late. Too bad for Tio Paulo. He'd have to drive more than his usual ten miles an hour.

I whistled, and Cavalo, the farmer's bay horse, whinnied. He trotted toward me, then stopped, waiting. I climbed to the top of the fence and cupped my fingers around his silky brown ears before I threw myself on his back.

"Go." I pressed my heels into his broad sides and held on to his thick mane.

Last time.

We thundered down the cow path, stirring up dust. My banana clip came off, and my hair, let loose, was as thick as the forelocks on Cavalo's forehead.

We reached the blue house where we'd lived when Mamae was alive. I didn't have to pull on Cavalo's mane; he knew enough to stop.

The four of us had been there together: Mamae, my older brother, Rafael; my father; and me. And it was almost as if Mamae were still there in the high bed in her room, linking her thin fingers with mine. The three of you will still belong together, Lidie, you'll make it a family.

Shaking my head until my hair whipped into my face, I had held up my fingers: There are four of us, Mamae. Four. 

I remembered her faint smile. Ai, only seven years old, but still you're just like your father, the Horseman.

Just like Pai.

Two weeks later, Mamae was gone, flown up to the clouds to watch over us from heaven, Titia Luisa said. And Pai and Rafael went off to America, leaving me with Titia Luisa and Tio Paulo. I still felt that flash of anger when I thought of their leaving without me.

I ran my fingers through Cavalo's mane. I'm going now, Mamae. Pai has begun to race horses at a farm in America, and there's room for me at last. Pai and Rafael have a house!

"Goodbye, blue house." The sound of my voice was loud in my ears. "Goodbye, dear Mamae."

Tio Paulo was outside in the truck now, blasting the horn for me.

"Pay no attention to him," I whispered to Cavalo.

Cavalo felt the pressure of my knees and my hands pulling gently on his mane, and turned.

We crossed the muddy rio, my feet raised away from the splashes of water, and climbed the slippery rocks, Cavalo's heels clanking against the stone.

In the distance, between his yelling and the horn blaring, Tio Paulo sounded desperate.

Suddenly I was feeling that desperation, too. We had to go all the way to Sao Paulo to catch the plane. But I was determined. Five minutes, no more. "Hurry," I told Cavalo.

Up ahead was the curved white fence that surrounded the lemon grove. The overhanging branches were old and gnarled, the leaves a little dusty, and the lemons still green.

Pai, my father, had held me up the day he'd left. His hair was dark, his teeth straight and white. "Pick a lemon for me, Lidie. I'll take it to America."

I'd reached up and up and pulled at the largest lemon I could find.

"When I send for you, you'll bring me another," he'd said.

What else was in that memory? Their suitcases on the porch steps, and I was sobbing, begging, "Take me, take me."

He'd scooped me up, my face crushed against his shirt, and his voice was choked. "This is the worst of all of it," he'd said. In back of him, Luisa was crying, and Tio banged his fist against the porch post.

But that was the last time I cried. After they left, I promised myself I'd never shed one more tear. Not for anyone.

Excerpted from Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Lidie lives in Brazil, where she rides,  a wild girl dreaming of going to live with her father, Pai, and older brother, Rafael, in New York City. Pai runs a stable at a famous race track. Since her mother died long ago, Lidie has lived with relatives. Now she's 12—ready to leave Brazil for New York.
   Meanwhile, a filly is born and begins her journey to a new home. As Lidie's story unfolds, so does the filly's.
   In New York, Lidie finds that moving to another country is a big challenge. And Pai and Rafael still think of her as the little girl they left behind. But she's determined to befriend, and ride, the spirited filly her father has just bought: Wild Girl.

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