- 1 Characters
- 2 Chapter By Chapter Summary
- 2.1 Chapter One: Ten Thousand Hours
- 2.2 Chapter Two: A Dose of Horse
- 2.3 Chapter Three: Singing Off-Key
- 2.4 Chapter Four: Letter to the PTA
- 2.5 Chapter Five: World Upside Down
- 2.6 Chapter Six: A Good-Luck Charm
- 2.7 Chapter Seven: Click, Treat
- 2.8 Chapter Eight: Professor Picasso
- 2.9 Chapter Nine: Painter's Block
- 2.10 Chapter Ten: The Fiesta
- 2.11 Real Girl, Real Story
- 3 See Also
Chapter By Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Ten Thousand Hours
Saige is walking her dog Sam and looking out over the Albuquerque landscape when her mom calls her for the first day of fourth grade. She's looking forward to seeing her best friend Tessa and returning to her favorite class, art, so she packs art supplies accordingly. Saige walks to school and meets Tessa at the bus when she arrives. Tessa talks excitedly about her music camp that summer. Saige is focused on the bare walls of the hallways and remembers the art on them the previous year until Tessa reminds her that they will not have art this year. Their school district cannot afford to have both art and music teachers each year, so schools rotate them each year.
A new girl walking alone ahead of them is disappointed that they won't have art, because she didn't have art last year, either. She introduces herself as Gabi Peña, and Saige knows she must have just moved into the neighborhood. Gabi comments on Sam; she loves dogs and their family's dog had recently died, but they can't get another until they have settled in. Gabi is in Mrs. Applegate's fourth grade class as well, so the three girls go inside to sit down.
Dylan Patterson, a tall classmate, invites Tessa over to her table. Dylan and Tessa attended the same music camp and are both wearing their green camp t-shirts, and they reminisce about their experience. In particular, they discuss the theory that you need 10,000 hours of practice of any particular skill to truly become strong at at it. Saige feels a pang of jealousy, because she and Tessa have always been inseparable. The table has room for two more, so Saige and Gabi sit with them.
Chapter Two: A Dose of Horse
Saige arrives at her grandmother Mimi's house after school. Mimi lives in an adobe ranch house in a more rural area and is almost the last stop on the school bus. She greets Saige and invites her in for lemonade so they can talk about Saige's art class concerns. Her house has large paintings, bright fabrics, and a large window that overlooks the Sandia Mountains and a horse pasture. Mimi owns several horses, a border collie named Rembrandt, and a new kitten that was dropped at her doorstep the previous week. She offers Saige an option for addressing the art class issue. Mimi belongs to a local Oil Painters' Society that is hosting an arts fiesta to raise money for local arts programs. She encourages Saige to get her school's PTA involved. With the PTA's involvement and enough arts funds, they might be able to bring in volunteer after-school arts teachers and pay school teachers extra to stay late and supervise the students. Saige is initially excited, but is disappointed when she realizes how much time and work it might take to get art classes going again. When she explains the 10,000 hours theory, Mimi agrees with it and emphasizes that it takes time and effort to achieve your goals.
Mimi takes Saige out to see the horses before they paint, and she explains that she and her older horse, Picasso, are planning to come out of retirement for the arts fiesta. There will be a parade at the start, and Mimi asks Saige if she would like to lead the parade on Picasso. Saige is nervous, but she knows everyone will be looking at Picasso, not her, and Picasso is also easy to ride. To prepare, Saige and Picasso will have to ride a few afternoons a week.
Saige and Mimi sit down to paint; Mimi is often busy on the ranch, but says she always makes more time to paint when Saige is around. Saige focuses on her portrait of Picasso and makes adjustments with Mimi's help until her father arrives to pick her up.
Chapter Three: Singing Off-Key
Over dinner that night, Saige shares Mimi's fundraising idea with her parents. Both of her parents are on board. Her mother is a member of the PTA and encourages Saige to write a letter to them with her classmates' signatures. Mrs. Copeland has also recently read that students get better grades when schools give them time with the arts. Mr. Copeland offers to donate balloon rides, and they decide to offer a raffle for a balloon ride during the Balloon Fiesta. Saige is excited and plans to have Tessa help her with the PTA letter, since Tessa is better at writing.
The following morning, Saige takes Sam out for his morning walk, where she sees Gabi outside. Sam quickly warms up to Gabi, and Gabi explains that she would love to be a dog trainer and used to teach their old dog tricks. She also brightens up when Saige mentions her grandmother's horses. Saige thinks about inviting Gabi to the ranch to visit them, but pauses when she remembers that she and Tessa usually do that together and she wants to invite Tessa that week. However, she asks Gabi if she wants to walk to school together, and Gabi blushes and smiles. After getting ready, they meet up for the walk to school. Gabi mentions her best friend at her old school, Renata, and she worries that they won't be as close now that they won't see each other every day.