An ambitious pony in Kentucky imagines a future filled with possibilities in this debut children’s book that mixes dreams, facts, and motivational messages.
Crafted as “edutainment” and primarily for horse fans, this work by Shew and Orttenburger—a fourth-grade teacher—revolves around a colt named Midway, who relates equine dreams that take him “traveling on adventures all over the world.” He imagines winning the Triple Crown, becoming a rodeo star, pulling a milk cart in Scotland, running with wild mustangs in the Grand Canyon, marching in the Christmas parade in New York as a police horse, and more. The chapters, one page in length, consist of text appropriate for readers ages 8 to 12. The work delivers Midway’s narrative followed by brief facts arranged as a bullet-point list related to that day’s dream. When the pony fantasizes about taking part in a rodeo on July Fourth, for example, the authors offer info-bits about bull riding, Western music, and the origin of the holiday. Midway realizes “a dream come true” when he is cast in a movie as the yearling version of champion thoroughbred Secretariat, and the fact list offers background on that Triple Crown winner and names famous “Hollywood” horses. Payst’s cartoon-style illustrations are arranged a bit haphazardly, some before the pertinent chapter, others after. They are lively and offer a witty touch despite an awkward, rubbery-looking Midway who bears little resemblance to anything found in nature. Each clearly written chapter introduces a different kind of horse, equine competition, event, or job. Mixed-breed Midway refuses to see limitations: if he puts his mind to it, he thinks, he could even be an award-winning Palomino. (“A dream can become a desired goal or purpose, like becoming the fastest horse in the world or a rodeo star,” the authors explain.) The book’s overall lesson for success: “Set goals and work hard.” Which of Midway’s dreams will be realized may come later—this is the first work in an intended series.
Youngsters who love anything equine should enjoy this volume filled with ample horse details and lore wrapped in light humor.