today’s children storybook summary is
My Chincoteague Pony
By Susan Jeffers
Storyline: Based on several true accounts, this book tells the story of a little girl determined to pass on the gift she had received from strangers, that made her dream come true. This book is not to be confused with “Misty of Chincoteague”, which is a different book that had actually inspired Susan Jeffers, the author of this story.
It is about Julie and her love for ponies. She wanted a real pony, but she only had stuffed animals, toys, and a book that she read several times. But, she knew something: every July there was a pony auction on the island of Chincoteague and, after numerous tries, she convinced her parents that she’ll earn enough money to buy one. The legend had it that, many centuries ago, a Spanish galleon (a large multi-deck sailing ship used long time ago for war and trade) that was carrying ponies, shipwrecked on the neighboring Assateague Island. Most animals survived and over time their kind grew in number and strength. But because food on the little island was limited, some ponies were in danger of death by hunger. But the Firefighters from Chincoteague, known as “saltwater cowboys” decided to ride some ponies across a narrow channel between the two islands. There, they would hold an action and sell then to some loving families.
The night before the auction Julie visited the stables to see the ponies and was overcome by joy when one black-and-white filly approached her. If it was to have that one, she said, she’d call him “Painted Dream”.
The day of the auction begun. Julie and her mother sat among other people. One buy one the ponies were sold but Julie never had enough money to win an auction. At some point, a woman gave her a twenty-dollar bill. Her mother didn’t want to accept at first, but she was soon overwhelmed by the generosity of the people around. Even so it was too late, and Julie was heartbroken, as the auction came to an end and all the ponies were gone. At the last minute, when people were getting ready to leave, the auctioneer called their attention at once. There has been a return, he informed them, and brought in the black and white filly that Julie had seen the night before. It was the girl’s last chance. The auctioneer looked straight at her and, pretending to call the auction, he sold it to her right away.
Returning home with her pony, Julie told her mother that she has a lot of work to do. She decided to earn money so next year she’ll give them to another little girl who wants a pony. And she kept her word.
Apart from the main story, the book features an “Author’s Note” where Susan Jeffers tells us how she came to write this book, her researches into the true stories about the Chincoteague ponies and auctions, along with the book that had inspired her: “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry. Also, on the opposite page, we’ll find the letter that Marguerite Henry had sent to Jeffers as a response to her enthusiastic letter. All these documents are closely related to the story in this book.
Characters: Julie, her mother, the auctioneer, “Painted Dream”
Illustration: Susan Jeffers is also the illustrator of this book. She does a wonderful job in building up the settings and a very likable character, Julie. For colors, a dominance of orange gives every page a sense of luminosity, like the sun had just rise, or just set. The other tones are soft and tend to melt into each other. The only bold statement is the horse, Painted Dream, that ends up as Julie’s pony.
One nice feature of the illustration is the map at the very first page, that shows the location of the Chincoteague island.
Recommended Age: 6 to 10
Reading Time: 6”
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