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PONY ISLAND by Candice F. Ransom


by Candice F. Ransom and illustrated by Wade Zahares

Pub Date: April 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8027-8088-1
Publisher: Walker

Misty of Chincoteague in rhyme. By now everyone knows the story of the wild Chincoteague ponies—the probably apocryphal shipwreck, the round-up each year, the auction. If not, certainly there are plenty of other available books about it (titles of which are helpfully supplied in a bibliography at the end). Ransom tells the story in staccato stanzas (“Empty island. / Room to roam. / Birds and beaches. / Brand-new home”) that scan well, but the clipped phrases don’t fully engage the audience. Likewise, Zahares’s wild, broad-stroked, bold-colored pastels are visually interesting but don’t allow either the ponies or the people to emerge as distinct characters. The shifting perspectives and striking compositions make each full-bleed, double-page spread an adventure in abstraction, the ponies and landscape figuring more as shapes and colors than as parts of a narrative. It’s arresting, but somehow ultimately fails to connect. Fine as an addition to large collections, but not as the sole book about Chincoteague. (author’s note, resources) (Picture book. 4-8)