Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Christmas Pony (2001)

The icicles have finally begun melting and falling off the eaves with great exciting cracks. The birds, which appear to share my dislike of the continuing presence of 16" of snow everywhere, responded with great excitement to my offering of moldy bread this morning. The breakfast crowd included the cursed robins, who have quite obviously quit the whole tiresome migration business and elected to remain here year-round as taunting non-harbingers of spring. All of which is to explain the posting of a review about a holiday-themed book which would on the face of it seem to be a bit late in the day. It has snow on the cover, it's going in.

The Christmas Pony

Sylvia Green, il. Sharon Scotland

2001, Scholastic

"Of course you can't have a pony for Christmas, Laura. We couldn't possibly afford one." Dad looked determined.

Poor old Dad. You know his determination is that of the doomed pony parent. The elderly neighbor who owns Mr. Crumbs is moving to Australia, and her aging palomino pony is scheduled to be retired to a horse rescue far away. But Laura doesn't want to lose her equine pal, and has rallied her brother Ben and her friends Emily and Sanjay to raise money to persuade her parents to adopt the pony instead.

Mr. Crumbs tossed his head, shaking his long mane, and blew gently through his nostrils. Laura couldn't imagine life without him.

The writing is very simple, the plot lacks urgency, but children's fundraising efforts are believable and sensible. The book seems aimed at children who are just past the beginner reader stage.


Mr. Crumbs - 18-year-old palomino pony

Other books

The Best Christmas Ever (cat)

The Best Dog In The World

Christmas Quackers (duck)

The Soft-Hearted Sheepdog

The Lonely Chick

The Christmas Wish (donkey)


Green is English, and the while the book is non-specific about exactly where it's taking place, there is a vague, indescribable Englishness about it. This sort of thing always fascinates me about English-language books, even those which aren't deliberately trying to be generic enough to appeal to a wider audience. It's usually possible to realize from the writing alone that a writer is American or English or Canadian or Australian*. The slang, the choice of character names and, of course, the biases and prejudices we all enjoy. My favorite is the phrase "North America," which is almost always a big red (maple leafed) flag that you're currently enjoying the writing of a Canadian author.

* Yes, I realize I left out the Irish and the Scots, but it's a lot harder, generally, to make that distinction so I've lumped them in with the English.

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