POLONIUS THE PIT PONY by Richard O'Neill

POLONIUS THE PIT PONY

Age Range: 5 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A coal-mining pit pony takes to the Traveling life.

Polonius works and lives day in and day out underground save for a two-week stint aboveground when the mines shut down. Seeing horses grazing untethered and unfenced with a Traveling family, Polonius takes his chance and escapes, following them to their next camp. Though initially Grandad is unwilling to take him, Lucretia persuades him that Polonius will “be useful somehow.” Indeed, though he’s more a well-loved pet than anything else, one day he proves his mettle by guiding draft horses Cushy and Thor through a dense fog so the family can get its wares to the port for shipping. Romani storyteller O’Neill gives readers a classic story of an undersized hero who makes good. His Traveler family is a tightknit, loving group that works hard even as it pursues an itinerant life. The sparing introduction of dialect further cements the family’s cultural specificity; while outsider readers may not know exactly what Daddo means when he tells the family they’ll “set off early and stop halfway for some habben and a besh,” the general concept is clear (and an unobtrusive opening glossary enlightens them fully). The equines’ ability to talk to one another further underscores their importance within the culture. Thomas’ delicate illustrations depict an early-20th-century industrializing English countryside; Lucretia and her family display a range of skin tones from pale to brown.

A sweet family story. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-78628-186-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Child's Play
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2018




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