Title: The Painted Ponies
Author/Illustrator: Alison Lester
Published: November 2021
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Children’s Picturebook
Matilda loves staying at Grandma Lucky’s, riding Luna in the front paddock and playing with the painted ponies in their carved wooden wagon.
The gold palomino, the chestnut, the bay,
the pinto, the brown and the dappley grey.
One day, Lucky tells Matilda about when she was a little girl and the real ponies were her friends…
A big, beautiful story about friendship and freedom, from Australia’s favourite picture book creator, Alison Lester.
Alison Lester has been a staple of Australia’s picturebook industry for as long as I can remember, and her stories are always full of delightful, brightly coloured images and stories that invite the reader in to the world she has created. The Painted Ponies is no exception. I love a good ‘circus’ story and this one is a heartwarming tale of a grandmother recounting her youth to her granddaughter.
Matilda is visiting with her grandmother, and plays with a collection of beautiful painted toy ponies, which prompts her grandmother, Lucky, to tell Matilda about the time when she was a child and living with a circus troupe. According to Lucky, one day the troupe saw six wild ponies that they began to care for and include in their performances until one day they had to let them go because it was in their nature to roam wild.
This is a gentle tale of friendship and passion for caring for horses (that could definitely be expanded into conversations about caring for animals). There’s a great sense of achievement and adventure that Lucky obviously feels in working with the wild horses that is then at odds with her sadness at having to say goodbye to the animals she became so close to. It’s certainly a wonderful tale for talking about the bonds humans form with their animals and vice verse.
The Painted Ponies is a beautiful book to share with children, and anyone who has a great passion for horses (and animals in general). It’s also a great mentor text for sharing with children when asking them to write about their own personal experiences in an engaging way for an audience.