Title: Pony on the PorchPony on the Porch
Author: Ben M. Baglio
Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas
Pages: 142
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★

Animal Ark.

The Story.

Mandy is saddened to hear that Mrs. Jackson is selling her beautiful pony, Prince. She understands her decision – keeping a pony is expensive and ponies need regular exercise – but she will miss the sweet pony.

At school, Mandy has been assigned to help Susan Collins, the new girl, settle in. It wouldn’t be so hard if Susan wasn’t determined to point out every way that London is better than their small country town. Mandy finds herself struggling to keep her temper with Susan, but when the opportunity comes to see Susan’s pony, Mandy jumps at it. Maybe they can connect over animals.

But Mandy is shocked to find that “Susan’s” pony is, in reality, Prince! She becomes even more worried when it becomes apparent that Susan intends to enter Prince in a jumping competition even though Prince is having trouble breathing. Is there anything Mandy can do to prevent Prince from being seriously injured?

Discussion.

Of course, Mandy does find a way to save Prince. When all of her verbal persuasion fails (Susan utterly refuses to withdraw Prince from the competition), she resorts to more desperate measures. She temporarily kidnaps Prince!!!

Part of me empathized with Mandy – it is hard to see a beloved animal in a position of ill health. But to steal a horse, even out of good intentions, is hardly justifiable. Especially problematic is the fact that Mandy’s mother assures her that she did the correct thing by kidnapping Prince.

I appreciated that Baglio gave Susan a second dimension. When we first meet her, she seems unfriendly and snobby. She isn’t interested in making friends with anyone and would prefer to gloat in her own wealth than extend kindness towards anyone. However, as the book progresses, we begin to peer under Susan’s crusty exterior and discover that she is a girl who misses her mother dreadfully (her mother is a famous actress who is rarely at home), and would do anything to regain her parents’ attention. This is the reason why she was willing to risk Prince’s health – she thought that by winning a competition she might earn her parents’ love.

Susan asks Mandy if James is her boyfriend. Mandy firmly denies this, and thinks how annoying Susan is to pester her with those kinds of questions.

Conclusion. So-so.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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