Keeker and the Sneaky Pony

Hadley Higginson, Author, Maja Andersen, Illustrator , illus. by Maja Andersen. Chronicle $3.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8118-5217-3

Launching the Sneaky Pony series, newcomer Higginson's breezy if rather slight tale introduces Catherine Corey Keeker Dana, who lives in the country with her parents and a passel of pets. But what Keeker most wants is a pony, "someone to go around with and tell things to." Just when the eight-year-old is sitting around "feeling sad" and fearing she "would never, ever get her own pony," a truck with a horse trailer pulls up and delivers one. At the sight of Plum, Keefer says, "I love her already," while the confused animal wonders, "Whose girl is this?" The pony continues to get the best lines. When a frustrated Keeker calls Plum "sneaky" because the pony refuses to let her catch up to him, the animal says, "What a silly girl.... All she had to do was ask nicely." On their first outing, Plum, tempted by the scent of food, thinks, "I might need to lose this girl so I can really enjoy these woods." Plum takes off, but the two come to an understanding (Plum comments, "I'm glad I got a girl....With a little more training, she'll be just right"). Sepia-toned art and type give this tale a pleasingly old-fashioned yet timeless feel. The ample full-page and spot illustrations plus short sentences tailor this early chapter book to reluctant readers—particularly those with a soft spot for horses (two more are planned for the fall). Ages 5-8. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/22/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
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