cover image Chang's Paper Pony

Chang's Paper Pony

Eleanor Coerr. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021328-2

It's the time of the Gold Rush in this I Can Read title; young Chang and his Grandpa Li work in the kitchen of the Gold Ditch Hotel in San Francisco. Since arriving from China, Chang has suffered indignities: he has been ostracized by American children and teased by the miners. Chang longs for a pony of his own, a pony to love and to ease the loneliness, but Grandpa says the only one they can afford is a paper onethe painting tacked above the stove. Kindly Big Pete, a miner, shows Chang how to dig and pan for gold, but he lacks enough for a pony. Then he finds gold dust where he least expects it. Although brief and simple, the story is rich in atmosphere, history and emotion. Coerr brings to young readers not only a satisfying tale, but a portrayal of an aspect of 19th century California history rarely attempted at this level. Ray's forceful drawings support the text well and firmly establish the dusty mining-town environment. She is particularly adept at showing the vulnerability of children, as well as the ways in which large and small joys affect them. Ages 5-8. (July)