cover image Noni the Pony

Noni the Pony

Alison Lester. S&S/Beach Lane, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5959-5

It’s the most adorable title to come down the pike in a long time—and it delivers on every page, even if it’s little more than a catalogue of the eponymous character’s sunny niceness. Noni, a plump, orange-dappled darling, is “Gentle and kind,/ and never lets anyone get left behind.” Her days are filled with frolicking, but if she gets spooked at night (“When the leaves rustle and sigh in the breeze,/ Noni thinks monsters are shaking the trees”) she has best buddies Dave Dog and Coco the Cat to provide emergency snuggle assistance. Fans of Lester (Running with the Horses) know that she’s an expert horse portraitist, but she opts for a radically streamlined approach in this outing, rendering Noni and her friends as a simple, toylike shapes with just enough details to reveal a cheerful, openhearted character: eager round eyes, a sweet little smile, and—in Noni’s case—a wavy mane and tail. There’s not a whisper of dramatic tension or narrative arc, but no matter: it’s a safe bet that readers will follow her anywhere. Ages 2–5. (Oct.)