Review Blog

Dec 27 2019

Prince of Ponies by Stacy Gregg

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Harper Collins, 2019. ISBN: 9780008332310.
(Age: 11+) Recommended. Themes: Horses; World War II; Refugees. This is not a sickly-sweet pony club story, rather it is a mature story based on historical fact that combines the history of some famous horses that were almost part of Hitler's equine breeding programme. It also includes the fictional story of their youthful Polish rescuer - Zofia; and then her protege, the Syrian refugee - Mira. Prince of Ponies begins with Zofia's account of her introduction to the Arabian stallion - Prince of Poland - during a time of great stress as the Germans were taking over her home in Poland in World War II. The bond that was forged between rider and horse gave her opportunity to survive and then flee from Hitler's advancing program of destruction. The account of Zofia's early life is related to Mira so that she can record this history and she is also trained to ride the horse - Amir, from the breeding line of the original stallion. Mira's own life of struggle as a Syrian refugee living in Germany is a side issue to the training and performance of the horse and its youthful rider. With a hint of the bullying that Mira must face in her school context, this is also a story about rising above the poor treatment inflicted by others.
This book is reminiscent of stories written by Michael Morpurgo where a serious historical incident is woven into a powerful story. It is written as the story of Mira, but includes the recount of Zofia as a separate narrative. The relationship between the much older Zofia as riding coach and the young Mira is unusual, but connects the two narrative elements. This is a book that is worthy of recommendation for the historical quality of the story, but horse lovers and enthusiasts of dressage and show-jumping will also be impressed by the detail of this in the book. The growth and maturing of the young protagonist as she overcomes difficulties and fears will also appeal to readers.
Recommended to readers aged 11+ (Not just for lovers of horses!)
Carolyn Hull

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