Pony by R.J. Palacio

Dear reader, I was compelled to devour this extraordinary adventure in one sitting and am desperate to read it again; such was its power over me. So, this is not so much a review as a love letter to Pony.

Set in 1860, this remarkable story defies categorisation: it’s a nail-biting action adventure, a moving coming-of-age story and a tender and poignant tale of eternal love. Not only was I captivated by 12-year-old Silas Martin’s unusual demeanour but also by his predicament, having lost his only parent in the dead of night to a dubious band of men and their spurious proposition. Defying his beloved father’s orders, Silas and the splendid Pony embark on a perilous journey, their only protector the deeply enigmatic and ethereal Mittenwool who has somehow magically watched over Silas from the moment he was born.

Like the ancient tale of Telemachus, this epic search for an absent father is rich, tantalising and multilayered. Silas’ adventures through ominous woods are strange, exciting and sometimes terrifying, yet, like the pony which propels him onward, the gifted Silas finds extraordinary courage to overcome his fears. And as with all great heroes, his real journey is within, as he ponders his young life and the wisdom and love of his genius father.

Drawing inspiration from the artefacts of an earlier time, beloved author of Wonder, R.J. Palacio, weaves an unforgettable and profound tapestry of courage and love. This outstanding, crossover novel has broad appeal, and is highly recommended for any reader of young adult fiction, from 9-year-olds right up to adults. Pony is an adventure of a lifetime!

Athina Clarke works as a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.

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R. J. Palacio

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