Review: Pidgy’s Surprise by Jeanne Mellin

Title:  Pidgy’s Surprise: The Little Shetland Pony with a Big Heart

Author:  Jeanne Mellin

Publisher:  Willow Bend Publishing

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Early Chapter Book Ages 7-8   Pidgy’s Surprise is the story of Cindy Sawyer and her plucky little Shetland pony named Pidgy. Cindy is always dreaming of the beautiful horse she hopes to own. Ponies are nice, but a horse would be wonderful. Cindy’s dream soon becomes an obsession and her parents realize that she is becoming a very unhappy girl. After a summer full of fun and riding, a morning comes when Pidgy goes missing. Not until she looks into the empty stall does Cindy realize how much she really loves her pony. Over 80 detailed drawings by famed equine author/illustrator Jeanne Mellin.


Review:

If you follow the blog at all, you know how much I love horses.  When I saw this book by Jeanne Mellin, I was dying to read it.  Originally published in 1955, Willow Bend Publishing worked with the author to update the text to make it more relatable to modern readers, without changing the flavor of the original story.  I thought they did a wonderful job; the story flows smoothly, and the dialog  doesn’t feel stiff or unnatural.  Cindy’s dream to own a horse instead of her stubby little pony will resonate with young, horse-crazy girls.  It certainly resonated for me!

Cindy Sawyer dreams constantly of owning a sleek, graceful, and bold horse.  What she has instead is Pidgy, a chubby Shetland Pony.  Unremarkable in any way, Cindy feels that she’s outgrown her childhood companion, and now all she can think about is getting a horse.  She wants to compete at the summer horse show, and, besides, all of her friends have horses now!  It’s unfair that she’s the only one who still has a pony.

After initially disliking Cindy because she seemed a bit spoiled to me, I gradually warmed up to her.  When I was her age, I would have done anything to have a pony or a horse.  I would have done anything to even be able to take riding lessons.  My parents did not understand the depth of my equine obsession, but it never went away.  When I moved out of the city, I continually talked about taking riding lesson.  The DH, finally fed up with hearing me talk about it but never do anything about it, told me I wasn’t getting any younger and if I was serious about learning to ride, I needed to do something now, or I needed to stop talking about horses.  Several years later, I am the proud owner of not one, but two, horses, and I’m sure he wishes he hadn’t said anything to me at all!  I will remain eternally grateful!

So, getting back to young Cindy, she had a perfectly pleasant pony she could hack around on.  Pidgy is about as bomb-proof as they come, and Cindy often jaunted about town bareback.  For her to wish and wish and wish for a horse seemed a little greedy to me.  But then I began to sympathize with her and her dream to own a horse.  All of her friends had gorgeous, flashy mounts that were spirited and fun to ride.  Comparing the shaggy little Pidgy to these beautiful horses was a little bit like comparing a Smart car to a Ferrari.  Being surrounded by all of that horsey hotness made Cindy miserable.  They were everything that Pidgy was not.

I liked the portrayal of Cindy’s parents.  They are sympathetic to her unhappiness, but they also can’t see anything wrong with Pidgy.  Her mother actively attempts to find a solution for her daughter’s misery, and after allowing her to show Pidgy in a local horse show, they allow the pony to prove to Cindy that they still have many adventures to enjoy together.

The descriptions of the horse show are spot-on, as is Pidgy’s stubborn, mischievous personality.  I don’t know much about Shetlands, but when Hackney ponies get a little big for their tiny britches, we just laugh and say, “That’s a pony for you!”  They are smart and they thrive on attention.  They are also gifted at getting into trouble.  Pidgy behaved much the same, and proved that she had a mind of her own, and that she wasn’t afraid to use it.  When they had a battle of wills, it was debatable whether Cindy won, or whether Pidgy allowed her to think she had. 

My favorite part of the book are the beautiful illustrations.  Each drawing is detailed, and the horses are lovingly rendered.  They add so much personality to the story, and I enjoyed all of them.  Though it would be prohibitively  expensive, I would have loved to see some of these in color.  Jane Mellin knows horses, and her illustrations are a joy to behold.  The book would be greatly diminished without them.

If you have a horse crazy girl in the house, I can’t recommend this book enough.  Pidgy’s Surprise would also make a wonderful addition to a classroom library.

NOTE: As mentioned in the forward, Pidgy’s Surprise was written before wearing helmets was common.  After recently falling off one of my horses when I was trying to dismount, I can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to strap on an approved helmet before getting on a horse. 

Recommended for ages 7  – 8, but I think this will appeal even to older girls, as well as some adults, due to the fantastic interior illustrations.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Just for Fun:

This is a picture of Bentley, a Hackney pony, standing next to a Freisian.  If you are wondering how Cindy felt riding her pony next to her friends with their horses, this picture should give you a good idea!

The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–September 2nd

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

I got back late last night from a horse show, and I’m totally exhausted.  I am so glad that it’s a holiday weekend so that I have another day to recover.  I always think I’m going to have some time to chill and read when I’m at a show, but it doesn’t usually work out that way.  There is a lot of running around at the fairgrounds, with many, many distractions, especially at the bigger shows.  There are all of the pretty, pretty horses, and almost against my will, I find myself sucked in to watching the classes or the warm-ups, even for the divisions I don’t really like.  And then there are all of the puppies and dogs people have brought to keep themselves company, and it’s animal overload.  It’s a lot of fun meeting new people and their pets at the shows.  My favorite new animal friend was a 3 year old Great Dane.  He was awesome because he was so well behaved, and because I didn’t even have to bend down to pet him! 

Elle had her best show yet, winning  Grand Champion Mare and getting the Reserve in her driving class.  It was raining during the performance class, so I didn’t get any pictures (again! every time the trainer drives her, we have a monsoon!)

This is Elle after her in-hand class, being modeled by my show buddy, Sarah. 

 

This is all of the stuff they shove into your arms after your horse wins a championship class.  Then you are supposed to run across the fairgrounds without dropping or breaking any of it, which would be bad, because there is horse poop everywhere.

Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

The Clockwork Sky Vol 1 by Madeleine Rosca

Message to Adolf Part 1 by Osamu Tezuka

A Guile of Dragons by James Enge

Reaper by K D McEntire

Callie’s Cowboy by Karen Leabo

The Devils Thief by Samantha Kane

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–Updated Pony Pix!

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Here are some updated pictures of the Morgan twins born this spring. 

This is from June.  They were still pretty small and skinny.

This is from last weekend.  They are being taught basic ground  manners, like how to stand and how to lead.  They will be going to their first horse show in September, where they will have to stand and be led around the ring.  Because they are babies and their brains are about as big as a pea, they have a very hard time doing that.  Weanling classes are fun to watch, because you never know what the silly little things will do.

This is the older twin.  She is a bay.  See how nicely she is developing?  She is very cute.

This is the younger twin.  Look at her!  Her lighter chestnut coat shed out, revealing her liver chestnut coat.  I love her!

Look at that pretty face!! 

Here is the happy family after lessons have ended.

Check out my current contests! See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

Most of these were delightful surprises.

 

Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross by Alex Ross

Blood Moon (The Drake Chronicles) by Alyxandra Harvey

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Black Bottle by Anthony Huso

The Moonstone and Miss Jones (Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator)  by Jillian Stone

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

The Diviners  by Libba Bray

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English

 

Cleopatra Ascending (A Shadow’s Edge Novel) by Maureen Lipinski

Shifter’s Destiny (Harlequin Nocturne) by Anna Leonard (Yes, it is about a shape-shifting unicorn.  You didn’t really think I could pass this one up, did you?)

I also received the new issue of RT Book Reviews.  I love flipping through this magazine.

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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Cover Shot! My Favorite Mistake by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka

I loved The A-Circuit, so I’m super excited to see that there will be a follow-up book.  The horse is a cutie, but I am not so sure that I like the model.  I certainly don’t like what she’s wearing.  I can’t image tackling a few jumps dressed in that!  It would make Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction appear tame.  Wearing that is like wearing flip-flops to work your horse; just think about what you might step in, and better yet, a steel or aluminum shod hoof trampling on your toes.  Despite the fashion disaster that’s waiting to happen, I can hardly wait to get my hands on My Favorite Mistake by Georgina Bloomberg and Catherine Hapka.

Tommi, Zara, and Kate are all elite riders on the A Circuit. Tommi, the billionaire heiress, is training a young horse to prove she can make horses a real career. But when her new beau, Alex, convinces her to skip a horse show to party in the Hamptons, the results could be disastrous. Zara, the celebutante wild child, is finally taking her riding seriously. Until the new "nanny" her dad hires threatens to upstage Zara’s party girl status. Then there’s Kate. She doesn’t have money to burn like the others, but she does have Fitz, the barn’s resident hot guy. But when the pressure of being a working student builds, Kate’s perfectionist tendencies threaten to get in the way of her relationship and her riding.

Readers who are growing out of the Canterwood Crest series or searching for an A-list fix have found just what they’re looking for in the A Circuit series.

In stores March 2012

Gone Fishing!

Ok, so I am really going riding, but that doesn’t have the same connotation.  My buddy persuaded me to go trail riding this morning, and as the significant other had to work, I thought why the heck not.  This will be Blondie’s first time on the trails, and the first time I have gone in two years.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just the slightest bit apprehensive about  whether or not Blondie will behave, but since Laurie’s mare can be a handful, too, I figure at least I am in good company if Blondie decides that walking through the woods is the scariest activity ever.   If I can snap some pix of the wilderness (local Metro Park) I’ll post again later. 

I hope all of you enjoy your Saturday!

Labor Day 2011!

I am kicking back today, chillaxing.  I went riding with my barn buddies this morning, and now I don’t want to do anything but sit around and read.  Instead of posting about books, I’ll share pix of my baby pony instead.   What are your plans for today?

 

Have a wonderful Labor Day!

More About The Show

Because Jenni commented that she would like to see more on the show, this one’s for you, Jenni! If you don’t want to read more about my horsey hobby, don’t click for more. Like book fanatics, horse people love their ponies, and we will latch onto any excuse to talk about them. Drives my non-horsey friends nuts. It especially drives Dean up a wall, so I try not to blather about the girls very much – I usually fail.

More after the jump – don’t jump if you don’t want to see more large, smelly animals!

Read more

Since It Can’t All Be About Books

Things have been a little quiet over the last week, and will probably be a little on the slow side this week as well.  I was in Columbus, Ohio most of last week, attending Morgan Gold Cup.  My mare, Elle, made her English Pleasure driving debut, and my big girl did me proud.  She had a great show, she had a wonderful work ethic, and she looked like she was having some fun, too.  If anyone is interested, let me know and I will post more about the show.  Otherwise, here are a few pictures – book coverage will begin again on Tuesday.

Heading into her in-hand class

Final adjustments before her driving class

Decked out in her reserve champion ribbon