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Monday, July 20, 2015

The Princess and the Pony, written and illustrated by Kate Beaton. Scholastic, 2015. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"This year, it would be different. Pinecone made sure to let everyone know exactly what she wanted: A big horse! A fast horse. A strong horse. A real warrior's horse! And they tried their best ... But they didn't get it quite right."

Sweaters are the go-to gift for Princess Pincone. She has many! This year, she wants something completely different. Her heart is set on it. While the family does their best to honor her wish, they miss the mark.

Princess Pinecone is a warrior. She has good reasons for being disappointed in her gift. How do you say 'no, thanks!' when it's a birthday gift? You can't! So she keeps the pony and accepts its minor flaws: eating things it should not, not resembling any warrior steed she has ever seen, and farting too much .

There is a great battle on the horizon: the warrior princess does her best to teach her new steed what he needs to be a champion. The lessons don't take. On the day of the battle, she leads him to the field and encourages him to 'do his best'. The fighting is intense; it doesn't look promising.

"The starting horn sounded, and what a battle it was!
There were dodgeballs and spitballs and hairballs
and squareballs (those were new).

People were getting knocked over left and right.
Pinecone stood at the edge, looking for her chance to dive in."

Just when it looked as if Otto the Awful would annihilate her, the cuteness of her pony comes to the rescue. Otto is enthralled. He falls in love with that round, cute, cuddly pony and is happy to be able to show his own 'cuddly' side, something warriors rarely do. Princess Pinecone is helpful in perpetuating that; she finds the perfect use for the abundance of sweaters she has accumulated over the years!

The message is clear ... you can be a warrior, a female, and fight using spitballs, dodgeballs and hairballs. You can be a terrifyingly huge warrior and sport a 'cuddly' side as well. Even a rotund, googly-eyed miniature pony can be a warrior when needed.

There is so much in Kate Beaton's cartoon-like artwork to attract close attention. The new pony is a delight, with his wayward eyes, his constant farting and the admiration he garners at every turn. Funny, expressive, smart and worthy of our attention, you need to see this brilliant book for yourself.
It's worth reading repeatedly. Fight on, brave warriors!  


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