Bramble and Maggie

illus. by Alison Friend. 52p. Candlewick. Mar. 2012. pap. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-4955-5. LC 2011018625.
Gr 1–3—In this beginning chapter book, Bramble the horse is tired of giving children riding lessons around a ring. Her owner, Mrs. Blenkinsop, realizes the problem and concludes: "No more riding lessons for you. You need a person of your own to have fun with." Bramble is picky about her prospective buyers and temperamental with a girl who has a ring at home and a boy who wants to jump. But Bramble likes Maggie, who arrives with boots, a helmet, and a book about horses. She and her family are picky, too, but give Bramble a home. At first, the horse is frightened of the unfamiliar bushes, a swing set, and a garden hose until the girl shows her that they are harmless. At night Bramble repeatedly kicks the shed door, and Maggie consults her horse book to develop a solution. This finely crafted story about building trust and friendship is gently infused with information about equine care and filled with expressive, colorful gouache artwork on every page. Offer this title to readers who enjoyed Erica Silverman's Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa (Harcourt, 2005) and Elissa Guest's Iris and Walter, True Friends (Harcourt, 2001) and, as reading skills progress, give them Haas's Runaway Radish (2001) and Jigsaw Pony (2005, both Greenwillow).—Laura Scott, Farmington Community Library, MI
School horse Bramble has a mind of her own. No one wants her--until Maggie arrives. With a little work the two of them form a partnership. "I have a horse!" Maggie thinks. "And she has me!" The narrative voice in this early chapter book is direct, succinct, and easy to read. The humorous illustrations feature big-eyed horses and their nonplussed riders.
Bramble has her own ways of communicating. When she gets bored of being a school horse, she goes too fast, or not at all, or else she just lies down and groans. Mrs. Blenkinsop, the instructor, promises to find her a person of her own to have fun with. But no one wants a horse like Bramble, who "has her little ways," as

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