Patricia Polacco frequently draws upon her life experiences to bring classic tales of love and hope to boys and girls everywhere. Her various stories touch upon a multitude of themes that kids can easily understand, though some are occasionally more complex than others. One common theme is the desire to follow one’s dreams. By never giving up hope and always trying, anyone can reach the stars, which is exactly what this children’s book is about.
Mrs. Mack owns a stable by the name of the Dogpatch. It sounds a little strange and it does not look very fancy at all, which is why Patricia (Polacco often names the characters after herself) is not exactly thrilled when her father takes her there for riding lessons. Though she is excited about getting riding lessons, she wants it to be at a beautiful ranch on an amazing horse. But the Dogpatch is not quite living up to those expectations. Except Patricia soon meets the owner and another special individual – Penny the horse. But not just a horse; Patricia soon realizes that Penny is the perfect horse!
Penny and Patricia get along so well, and Patricia loves Penny very much. Penny helps her overcome some of her fears, and when Penny gets sick, Patricia is very worried about what will happen to her. Luckily, as with all of Polacco’s stories, things end happily ever after and readers will be highly satisfied.
Polacco’s tale won the award of Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book of the Year. It has a sweet story that will appeal especially to kids who love horses. Polacco’s illustrations are powerful and nicely detailed. Penny is a very realistic rendition as opposed to a more cartoon-like style. Using pencils to etch in important details and markers and watercolors to sweep in beautiful and rich colors, readers will enjoy watching Patricia ride Penny over green fields and chat with the owner. Even though the book is intended for kids ages 4 to 8, adults are sure to fall in love with it as well, so be prepared for plenty of readings throughout the year!