One thing readers can count on every year is that come autumn, many Christmas titles will be hitting the shelves. Another sure thing is that Melody Carlson will be among the authors whose name will adorn the cover of one of those books. And if you’re a Melody Carlson fan, that’s good news! In years past, Carlson has delivered holiday stories like THE CHRISTMAS DOG, THE CHRISTMAS BUS, CHRISTMAS AT HARRINGTON’S, and last year’s THE CHRISTMAS SHOPPE. This year, readers are treated to THE CHRISTMAS PONY, which proves every bit as heartwarming --- if not even more so --- than the others.
It’s 1937, and like many little girls both then and now, eight-year-old Lucy Turnbull wants nothing more for Christmas than a pony. And it just so happens that Smoky, the beautiful gray pony down the road, is for sale! Unfortunately, finances are tight, and getting her wish does not seem likely, but that doesn’t stop Lucy from praying that somehow Smoky will be hers.
"This is a wonderfully sweet story, with vivid descriptions that pull you right into the pages, where you’re able to hear the crunch of the snow and feel the chill in the air."
Another thing Lucy asks God for is to make her mother smile again --- something mama hasn’t done much of since Lucy’s father died a few years ago. Her mother and grandmother run a boarding house that has been hurting for guests lately. One day, when Lucy goes into town for a couple of grocery items, she meets Veronica and George, whose car has broken down while passing through, and they are stuck in town until it can be repaired. Lucy is enthralled with Veronica, who looks like a movie star. Since the couple needs a place to stay and seems to have plenty of money to go around, Lucy invites them to stay at their boarding house. The extra income will surely make mama happy!
Lucy remains enamored with Veronica for a while and loves to listen to her talk. And Veronica sure loves to talk --- mostly about herself. Veronica is desperate to get to California, where she can pursue an acting career. Lucy quickly discovers that her initial assumption that George and Veronica are married was wrong. Apparently, the “friend” Veronica had been travelling with stole her money and left her on the side of the road, and George came along and offered her a ride. It’s clear that Veronica is sweet on George, but Lucy can see that George isn’t Veronica’s type at all. In fact, if Lucy didn’t know better, she’d think George was falling in love with her mother. And that would be fine with Lucy. George is a great guy she would love to call “daddy,” and he even makes her mother smile again.
As the snow begins to fall and Christmas draws near, Lucy realizes that Christmas may just bring everything she’s been praying for, and more!
THE CHRISTMAS PONY is categorized as historical romance. While there is a romantic element, I’m not sure this is an accurate label. It’s written from the perspective of an eight-year-old girl. The main thread is faith, which is tested a bit when it doesn’t seem God is answering Lucy’s prayers, but faith is always there, riding on the coattails of hope. Lucy is an adorable character you can’t help falling in love with. Even with such a young narrator, this book is suitable for the most mature reader. The lessons taught are ones we all need to be reminded of now and then. What better time than Christmas for a refresher course on the importance of maintaining the faith of a child?
This is a wonderfully sweet story, with vivid descriptions that pull you right into the pages, where you’re able to hear the crunch of the snow and feel the chill in the air. THE CHRISTMAS PONY is a short book --- only 169 pages --- and is a charming tale that should be enjoyed by the whole family over the course of a few evenings, perhaps while sitting around the fireplace or Christmas tree with a mug of hot cocoa.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on December 12, 2012