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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Petra, a spirited young wild horse, has some growing up to do. In the meantime, however, she loves to gallop like the wind, faster than any of the other wild horses in her herd, even faster than her best friend, Felia. In Hazel Dains’s Like a Spark, Petra’s family is well respected and her father has just been given a prestigious position in caring for the herd. Everything changes when one day, Petra wakes up and discovers she has wings. They’re big and cumbersome and, while trying to keep up with the herd, Petra knocks over Felia. Now everyone is angry with Petra and her family; her father is no longer respected and no longer has the prestigious position. Petra is confused and wants her differences to go away; she doesn’t want the wings, even though they begin to make others see her as quite beautiful, powerful, and full of hope and wonder. Can she come to terms with her new look and powers? And what about her friendship with Felia? Is being different really all that bad?
Hazel Dains’s middle-grade chapter book, Like a Spark, is entertaining and will have all young readers cheering on young Petra. Told in the third person, the plot chronicles Petra’s journey as she goes from a playful filly to a troubled spirit with wings she doesn’t want. This is a coming-of-age story as she must mature and accept who she is and how she appears to others. Differences can be challenging, but as Petra matures, she learns that differences don’t have to be a handicap; she doesn’t have to be like everyone else. In fact, there’s a certain gift in being different and this becomes a powerful lesson for Petra to learn and accept. The author uses good, believable dialogue and detailed descriptions that set the stage for each event. Petra learns to use her wings to soar above the earth, to see the world from above, and to help protect her herd and her family. Life is full of times of courage and, yes, hope. A beautiful and endearing story that will warm the hearts of all.