Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Wild Colt by Lois Szymanski, 40 pages.
    
Full-page pictures created in oil paint bring to life a beautiful new children’s book which portrays a young Chincoteague pony’s first summer. 
    
After his birth, his mother lovingly cares for and encourages her little brown and white foal as he rests and then begins to take his first tentative steps.
    
In the coming days the colt eats dune and marsh grasses, drinks fresh water at a nearby water hole, and discovers the birds, turtles, raccoons, deer and other creatures which share his coastal wetland habitat on Chincoteague Island.  Soon he is busy exploring everywhere.
   
Through the long lazy days of the summer, the colt runs, plays, jumps, kicks and races with the other young ponies on the island.
    
Sometimes he is startled by the mysterious booming thunder and lightning flashes of a sudden thunderstorm.
    
Near the end of the summer, he and the other colts are rounded up for the yearly wild pony auction on the island, where he is purchased by the family of a young girl who has always wanted a pony. It is apparent that the colt will be very much loved in his new home.
    
This gentle story, told in light, rhyming verse, may be especially appropriate as a bedtime read-aloud. Facts about wetlands and their creatures are included at the end of this charming book by Lois Szymanski, who has written other children’s books about horses (Sea Feather and A Perfect Pony).                                              

** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.

Darcy by Whitney Sanderson, 142 pages.
    
Set in early 20th-century Ireland, Darcy is the tenth title in the popular “Horse Diaries” series of children’s stories, each narrated from the horse’s point of view.
    
For the first year of her life, Darcy is free to spend her days running, playing and exploring. Then she is put to work on the McKenna farm. As a small, hardy Connemara pony, she quickly grows accustomed to the hard work of an Irish farm horse, pulling carts filled with peat turf from the bog, hauling loads of seaweed from the coast to spread as fertilizer on the fields, working in the fields and carrying family members to the places they need to go. Sundays are a day of rest.
    
Darcy is content with her life.  She is happy to work hard for the McKenna family, who love her and treat her well.
    
On one occasion, she displays her running prowess when she is challenged to race an English thoroughbred across the rugged Irish countryside – and wins, despite the odds. On another occasion, Darcy’s great speed saves the day when the McKenna family faces a medical emergency. 
     
A heart-warming, well-written story which encompasses both the happy and sad times in the life of a pony, Darcy (or any of the other titles in the Horse Diaries series, such as Koda, Golden Sun or Bell’s Star) would be an excellent choice for those who love horses and other animals. Because each book in the “Horse Diaries” series tells the story of a different horse, in a different time and place in history, the books can be read alone or in any order. 

** Recommended for ages 8 to 11 years. 

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on July 25, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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