Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take

illus. by Alison Friend. 48p. Candlewick. 2013. RTE $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5021-6. LC 2012942618.
K-Gr 3—Bramble and Maggie return in this delightful tale about a girl and her horse. In soft gouache tones, the natural colors depict life on a farm, at the beach, and in the backyard where Maggie introduces Bramble to new places in their neighborhood. The illustrations provide support to the text, chapters are concise, and the narrative is developed well for comprehension and reading fluency. Maggie learns that by offering her horse a carrot, it is much easier to get her bridle on. Bramble is unhappy when Maggie and her family leave for the day and there is no one to apply bug spray or to keep her company. It is only when she ambles over to Mr. Dingle's fence and starts eating the neighbor's roses that she meets his hen and things start to change for her. The horse discovers that the hen eats all the bugs nearby, and she uses Bramble's back for a perch so the animals are much happier together. Full spreads and realistic artwork convey the characters' emotions well, helping emerging readers understand that friendships are often about give-and-take. Equine fans and those ready to progress to more substantial plots will enjoy this early reader.—Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI
Now that Maggie's new horse, Bramble, has settled in (Bramble and Maggie, rev. 3/12), everyone has some adjusting to do. In four chapters, beginning readers will get to know this pair better, along with their neighbors and a broader meaning of the phrase give and take. Readers learn from the very first page, when Maggie suggests going for a ride, that Bramble in particular has strong opinions and dry wit: "Bramble knew about rides. The rider sat in the saddle. The horse did all the hard work." For new readers gaining confidence, the simple sentences are peppered with more challenging vocabulary, and they build in complexity over the course of the book. The soft gouache illustrations delicately draw out and supplement the text's humor in both spot art and full spreads. While Bramble's arrival brings plenty of trouble, it also comes with many benefits only discovered through experiment and compromise. As Bramble herself asserts in the first chapter, "Neither of them should be boss all the time. There should be some give-and-take." julie roach

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