By Jeanne Betancourt, Illustrated by Richard Jones
Published by: Scholastic Paperbacks; Scholastic Version edition (November 1, 2003)
Available in: paperback, school & library binding
At the time of this review there were 38 books in the Pony Pals series, as well as an accompanying six-book series, Pony Pals Super Specials.
At full gallop.
Ponies on Parade (Pony Pals #38) is the last book in a classic series that is still saddled up and ready to go for today’s young readers.
Those familiar with this blog know that I don’t automatically give a positive nod to older books. But Pony Pals is different. Author Betancourt laces her girl-centric, horse-crazed books with tangible emotions, authentic problems and just enough originality to keep them fresh and lively a decade or two down the trail.
Ponies on Parade, for example, deals with a fun little art contest. But that’s just the withers to this very full-sized horse tail… um, tale. Harnessed within this plot are the day-to-day challenges of a child with dyslexia. Also, we see the aggravation of boys who constantly tease girls, and sometimes it’s quite hurtful emotionally or physically. As the story progresses, the three girls who make up the “Pony Pals” are faced with ethical choices of ignoring a problem or stopping to do the right thing, even when they don’t want to. Parents are responsible, kids are sometimes irresponsible and pony care is clear and correct.
This series also is interesting because it caters to older chapter book readers. With short text, pictures and third grade reading level, it’s spot on for the genre. But the characters are all middle school age. This makes Pony Pals the perfect fit for girls who are either less advanced or reluctant readers in the third through sixth grades. For them, this little extra carrot of encouragement is a blue ribbon choice of reading material.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….