Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season

illus. by Alison Friend. 56p. (Bramble and Maggie). Candlewick. Aug. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763649555; pap. ISBN 9780763662516; ebk. ISBN 9780763664503. LC 2013952844.
K-Gr 2—Maggie and her horse, Bramble, are back in another beginning chapter book. With a slightly mischievous, frisky attitude in the cooler fall weather, Bramble takes risks and pretends to be fearful, while Maggie introduces her to the sights and sounds of autumn. Both grow into their partnership and maturity as Bramble overdoes her imitation of anxious jumpiness, thoughtlessly unseats her rider, and finally accepts responsibility and returns home safely. Maggie is back in the saddle again with a final chapter, taking the lead and guiding her horse through a succession of surprises on a dark night of trick-or-treating. Softly colored gouache illustrations illuminate expressions and follow the action from a variety of perspectives and have appropriate visual clues and generous white space for younger readers. Dialogue, Maggie's occasional reflections, and a bit of onomatopoeia allow the narrative text to flow nicely as a trusting relationship develops between horse and rider. A solid addition for general purchase.—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX
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 loved fall...The weather made Bramble feel spooky. It made her feel frisky and full of fun." In their third first-chapter-book entry, Maggie (girl) helps Bramble (horse) overcome her fear of scarecrows; Bramble helps Maggie get back in the saddle after a fall; and the two have a Halloween-y good time. Clear, lively prose and soft, expressive gouache illustrations combine for a Halloween friendship story.
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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