When Emma gets a pony for her 11th birthday, her dreams come true, but her joy is soon tempered by reality. Freckles has a hard mouth and a mind of his own, frequently leaving Emma in difficulty. Not anticipating the consequences, she rouses a neighbor's ire by jumping his fence, also spraining her ankle; the pony gets out and destroys her father's garden; Emma loses control at a pony show, knocking the instructor down. Fearful that her parents will get rid of Freckles, she runs away with him. Then, recovering from injuries received when the pony is spooked by a tractor, she accepts her need for help--only to discover that he's gone. Friends help rescue him from a cruel new owner, and in the end it all works out: Freckles is Emma's to love and train with the help of weekly lessons. Beales's concept of time is rather elastic, and the b&w illustrations don't always adhere to the text--which has been carelessly Americanized, leaving the setting in limbo. Still, these are minor flaws in a promising first novel. Overall, the adventures of overconfident Emma and her naughty pony are funny and satisfying: determination wins, cruelty is punished, and justice is served.