Pony Pals

ponypalscover

Ponies on Parade (Pony Pals, Book 38)

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….

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Year One Re-Post #5: Ava Tree and the Wishes Three

Originally published in December 2013. This quiet, elegant little book has resonated with me through the months.ava tree cover

AVA TREE AND THE WISHES THREE

By Jeanne Betancourt, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

 

Published by: Feiwel & Friends; First Edition (March 31, 2009)

Available in: hardcover, Kindle, NOOK

 

 

Wishful thinking… what an intriguing premise.

Ava Tree and the Wishes Three is a solid chapter book with some big concepts packed into sweet, bite-size bits.

One unique aspect of this story is its configuration: there are three parts, each with five chapters. The action takes place over three days, with each part one day. I love that this lets the chapter book reader tackle something a touch longer and more complex than they might be used to. The three parts gives the reader goals within the book, so it might not seem overwhelming.

The story also tackles the death of parents. Although this is handled gracefully and with true empathy throughout, this fact is boldly revealed on page one. I admit to being slightly shaken right away. But once the story evolves, as much as this is sad, the author doesn’t exploit this tragedy, but rather holds and examines it carefully.

The plot is somewhat complex—as one would expect with a story that supports three separate parts—but is explained with plain repetition at just the right times. No child will be confused by this complexity. In fact, the depth of this story is one of its winning factors.

The warm, slightly boxy illustrations bring a light, welcoming feel. And the use of magic, rabbits and mean boys play into a world into which children can sink with comfort, even while digesting some uncomfortable sides of life—and death.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

Wishful Ava Tree

ava tree cover

AVA TREE AND THE WISHES THREE

By Jeanne Betancourt, Illustrated by Angela Dominguez

 

Published by: Feiwel & Friends; First Edition (March 31, 2009)

Available in: hardcover, Kindle, NOOK

 

 

Wishful thinking… what an intriguing premise.

Ava Tree and the Wishes Three is a solid chapter book with some big concepts packed into sweet, bite-size bits.

One unique aspect of this story is its configuration: there are three parts, each with five chapters. The action takes place over three days, with each part one day. I love that this lets the chapter book reader tackle something a touch longer and more complex than they might be used to. The three parts gives the reader goals within the book, so it might not seem overwhelming.

The story also tackles the death of parents. Although this is handled gracefully and with true empathy throughout, this fact is boldly revealed on page one. I admit to being slightly shaken right away. But once the story evolves, as much as this is sad, the author doesn’t exploit this tragedy, but rather holds and examines it carefully.

The plot is somewhat complex—as one would expect with a story that supports three separate parts—but is explained with plain repetition at just the right times. No child will be confused by this complexity. In fact, the depth of this story is one of its winning factors.

The warm, slightly boxy illustrations bring a light, welcoming feel. And the use of magic, rabbits and mean boys play into a world into which children can sink with comfort, even while digesting some uncomfortable sides of life—and death.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….