Pony cover
Pony by R. J. Palacio

By R. J. Palacio
Knopf, 2021
289 pages

Ages 9-13

In 1860, sensitive, sheltered Silas, 12, lives with his loving, intelligent father, Martin Bird, and Mittenwool, a ghost who’s been Silas’s companion for as long as he can remember. When Silas’s father is forced at gunpoint to accompany three men looking for someone named Mac Boat, his parting instructions to Silas are not to follow. But when a horse that’s run away from his father’s kidnappers shows up the next morning, Silas is sure it’s a sign he should do exactly that. Accompanied by Mittenwool, Silas rides the horse, which he calls Pony, into the forest he’s feared since early childhood to find his father. Soon lost, he’s rescued by Marshall Farmer, a lawman looking for a band of counterfeiters. The Marshall is reluctant to let Silas accompany him until Silas mentions the men and the name Mac Boat who, it turns out, is a famous counterfeiter. When the Marshall is injured, he dispatches Silas to summon help from some local lawmen. Soon Silas, Sheriff Chalfont, and Deputy Beautyman are approaching the kidnapper’s cave where Silas’s father is held. The already enthralling plot is made even more intriguing as Silas’s discovers and unravels more than one mystery about his family’s past. But it’s the kindness and compassion of its main characters that give this story its deeper weight. Old daguerreotype and ambrotype photographs of people in the 19th century are the lead-in to chapters introducing key characters throughout this singular work.  ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center