Friday, June 15, 2012

Bramble and Maggie by Jessie Haas, illustrated by Alison Friend

On rare occasions I buy a book I have not read, reviewed, or thoroughly researched. It happens a bit more often now, since I have a little more money to spend and a rapidly increasing list of other duties in addition to collection development *sigh*.

This book came up on my new releases list from BWI Titletales (best vendor ever btw) and knowing we needed more easy readers and liking the cover, I added it to the list. When it showed up and I skimmed it, I took it home for a more intimate discussion.

Bramble has gotten bored going around and around the ring giving riding lessons. Maggie is picking out a horse all of her own. Is Bramble the right horse for her? As the riding instructor, Mrs. Blenkinsop says "Bramble has her little ways." Bramble and Maggie meet, negotiate, and finally settle down to a happy ending in four chapters. The writing is at the higher end of easy readers, about Arnold Lobel level, but still maintains the simple vocabulary and short sentences needed by beginning readers. Within the confines of the easy reader, Jessie Haas produces a story that is funny, touching and has a gentle underlying message - there's a place for everyone.

Alison Friend's pop-eyed characters are a delightful accompaniment. She perfectly fulfils the requirements of an easy reader illustrator, giving clues to the reader and adding dimension to the simple story. The combination of text and art adds even more humor to the story and children will be delighted to read and watch the growing friendship between Bramble and Maggie.

Verdict: I can't wait to put this out on the shelves and watch the kids grab it. It's not so specifically "girl+horse" that boys won't pick it up and both children and parents will enjoy the humorous story. This lucky pick was definitely lucky and I can see it becoming a beloved classic!

ISBN: 0763649554; Published March 2012 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

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