Transitioning readers enamored with horses will be happy to immerse themselves in the third title of the Bramble and Maggie series, in which Maggie and her horse learn to cope with real and imagined fears.
In each of the three chapters, Bramble spooks at the various sights and particular sounds of autumn. First Bramble is made uneasy by the new scarecrow in a neighbor’s yard. But Maggie coaxes her equine friend to take a closer look. Who knew something a bit scary could be so tasty! The next chapter finds Bramble reacting to falling acorns. As she goes one way, Maggie goes the other way…and falls. Maggie wants to call it a day, but Bramble knows that “riders always got back on. That made them feel much better. Bramble stood very still….She waited.” Finally it is Halloween, and the two friends need to decide how to dress up. But now the lanes are full of scary-looking creatures. Each of the pair must find her courage so that the other will not be afraid. Haas keeps descriptive language succinct while integrating entertaining dialogue. Friend’s gouache illustrations ably depict Bramble’s expressions of alarm and stubborn persistence, humorously extending the text.
This well-crafted horse story explores the themes of friendship and facing fears for those getting ready to move on from early readers. (Early reader. 5-8)