Children, mostly female-presenting, fawn over ponies in brief poems and genteel illustrations.
The title makes explicit what this book is about and who it is for, and it does not deviate from this expectation. Many poems deploy rhyming patterns recognizable to those familiar with Euro-American nursery rhymes: “A-riding we will go, / a-riding we will go. / Up and down the mountainside, / a-riding we will go.” Some poems celebrate ordinary day-to-day life with a horse; others are fueled by fantasy and imagination, augmented by Rhys’ watercolor-and–mixed-media art. For example, the illustration accompanying the lines “Gentle Gwen is a giant. / She’s taller than a tree” makes wonderful use of perspective, showing a large horse towering over a child, providing shelter from massive raindrops. The illustrations are gentle to the point of docility, anthropomorphizing the horses with sweet smiles and tender presences. Even “Sweet Little Penny,” who bucks off her young rider, does so in a gently gleeful way. The rolling hills and cobblestone paths call to mind the English countryside. Varied skin tones are depicted, though the riding gear and clothing are uniformly Eurocentric, an unfortunate missed opportunity considering that horse-riding traditions exist worldwide.
Sure to become a fast favorite among the pony-preoccupied. (Picture book/poetry. 3-7)