Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Wish pony by Catherine Bateson

Last week the short listed titles were announced for the annual Children’s Book of the Year awards by the CBC. We already had nearly all of them in our school library but several of the Novels for Younger readers had slipped past me.

The Wish Pony is another title from Catherine Bateson. She has been awarded by the CBC previously with her books such as Being Bee, Rain May and Captain Daniel and Millie and the night Heron. I did enjoy these books but I did find them very personal reading experiences, not suitable as read-a-louds which is fine, but also not necessarily appealing to very many children either.

While I did read The Wish Pony very quickly I did not find it particularly remarkable. Ruby is awaiting the birth of her brother but after 11 years as an only child she has natural anxieties and jealousies to overcome. Her life journey is aided at this difficult time by the arrival of a stranger in the neighbourhood. An eccentric old lady called Magda. Perhaps Magda is Mary Poppins, she blows in with the wind, works her magic for Ruby and her friend Bailey and then she packs her bags and heads off to the West careful to pack a special trinket (like the wish pony) for her next child in need.

I did like the idea that reading books (the right books as supplied by Magda) could help with the healing and growing up processes for our young protagonists but overall this book did leave me underwhelmed. I am usually wrong with my predictions about the CBC awards so we will need to wait until August to see this one is a winner for 2009 but if it is I will be very surprised.

While there is a cute horse on the cover and of course the title includes the word pony I don't really think this is a book for those girls who are mad about horse stories. Good readers in Years 4-6 would enjoy this warm story.

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