A small pony recounts his melodramatic life.
The nameless pony is first given to a little girl on her birthday. They compete over fences and win, until they try a jump that is "just too high." The girl falls off, and her angry parents sell the pony to a circus, where for years he partners with a dwarf in a clown act. When the circus disbands, the pony, now old, thin and pathetic, is sold at auction. His original little girl, now grown, happens to be at the same auction. She recognizes him, and, of course, they live happily ever after. At 48 text-heavy pages, it's long for a picture book, and the pace suffers accordingly—several scenes, such as the opening with the pony and his dam in a field, take up a lot of pages but don't move the story forward. The emotional tone often feels forced or misplaced, as when the circus fails because the audience "stayed home, playing video games," and the perspective seems more adult than child-friendly. Dockray's watercolor illustrations are better than her text. Animals and people are both lifelike and full of emotion, and she varies perspective and tone to convey changing moods. Overall, it's hard to see an appropriate audience for this one—small children won't sit through it, older ones will be bored.
You can only say, "Oh, the poor pony!" so many times. (Picture book. 5-8)