Ponies, ponies, ponies


Sheryn Dee

Magic and the Best Day, by Sheryn Dee

Happy Cat Books, £3.99
(but nearly )

Aimed at children of around 5 and upwards, this book contains two short stories about Magic and Jessie. It’s an Australian series about Jessie, who is 7 and lives on an Australian sheep station. For her seventh birthday Jessie is given Magic the pony, and the book contains two short stories about them and the farm. The first, Magic and the Best Day, is about the great day when Jessie is given Magic. Her parents teach her to tack him up and groom him, and Jessie has her first ride. A Big Day Out has Jessie and Magic going on an illicit ride out, and Jessie loses Magic and herself. This is a story with a moral - no going off anywhere without asking Mum and Dad - but it doesn't clobber the reader with good behaviour rules too hard.

These are gentle stories for reading before bed; and both my daugher Miranda (fellow reviewer) and I both liked them. They have a lot of charm and some gentle humour, and farm and family life is nicely observed. Jessie, in these stories at least, is a remarkably equable child: bright and sunny all the time, but these are comfortable stories, not meant to challenge and none the worse for that.

What does let them down is their see-sawing between accuracy and the unbelievable in a way that’s quite breathtaking. Tacking up Magic is well and carefully described, but learning to trot, and indeed ride, is apparently instant. The illustrations suffer from the same bizarre mixture of accuracy and oddity, so that on one page you have an accurate picture of the underside of a horse’s hoof, and on the next a pony whose legs look as if they need a very long session with the hose. Depending on what sort of parent you are, these will either drive you demented and leave your child pleading with you to shut up and get on with the story, or you will swallow nobly and carry on, enjoying what is a sweet and gentle read.

Sheryn Dee is an Australian author.  She started acting for Australian television and radio at the age of 13, and writing for radio 2 years later.  She has worked as Secondary School teacher, and worked in communication psychology  (neuro linguistic programming).  

She now works principally as a screenwriter, and has adapted books for the stage, including Come Danger Come Darkness for the BBC, and has won several film and television awards.  The only children’s pony books she has written (that I have been able to find) are her Magic books.  These are aimed at the earliest readers, and are good solid reads.  They will not set your literary world alight, but they are charming stories, gently humorous, and good bedtime reading.

The Magic Series

Magic Goes to School, 2007
Magic Helps Out, 2007 (Aussie Pony Tales 2)
Magic and the Best Day, 2007 (Aussie Pony Tales 1)

Magic Goes to School, 2004 (Aussie Pony Tales 4)

You’ll Wish You Had a Pony Like Magic!  2008

Magic Mixture, 2007

Note: as each book contains two stories, it is difficult to disentangle which one is which.