The setting for my middle grade novel

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I just returned from a wonderful week-long visit to the northern Outer Banks. My husband Fran and I stayed in Corolla, which is close to the natural refuge of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs. (They roam a 7,500 acre area of the northern-most area which is accessible only by 4WD vehicles.) They are protected and managed by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund a non-profit. I took the above picture while on a horse tour. We were fortunate to take a wild horse tour on an open-air SUV ( proceeds support the Corolla Wild Horse Fund) and see the mustangs in their natural setting. Two herds were on the  beach, not far away from people and 4WD vehicles. They basked in the sea breeze. The guide said that when it’s hot, they wade in the surf to get rid of insects. I asked if there were foals, and was told there was one born recently, but the mare keeps it out of view in the woods till it’s older.

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The tour guide drove behind the dune line, where we saw some spread out beach homes, rugged sandy roads and scrubby terrain. We saw several wild mustangs in an a boggy area called “the meadow” below. Horses eat a kind of plant that grows in the water and can walk across it. A stallion whinnied and ran back into the woodsy area while I watched. Their free spirit and beauty is a wonder to behold. I became a “mustang defender” which means-make a donation to support the wild horses. The horse Fund is under the National Parks division and oversees their safety and herd management.

The guide told me they rarely intervene with the horses unless one is injured and needs vet care. It is captured and brought to a special site where it gets vet care, but can’t return to the herd. The younger horses that leave the herd for injuries, are trained with the hope of adopting them out to qualified homes.

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My Favorite Middle School Books

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I love reading middle grade fiction in the contemporary and elements of magic genres. Some that have left an impression are:

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, A Hundred Horses, by Sarah Lean, and A Whisper of Horses, by Zillah Bethell

Circle of Secrets, The Time of the Fireflies, The Healing Spell, and When the Butterflies Came, all by Kimberley Griffiths

Orphan Island, by Laurel Snyder

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Nest, by Esther Ehrlich

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly, by Ted Sanders

The Road to Tater Hill, by Edith M. Hemmingway.

These books all feature young eleven or twelve-year-old-girls as main characters, and most are contemporary,  with an element of magic or the supernatural.

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