This book is more suited for readers 12+ years old.
There are a couple of more mature themes running through the story that younger readers may have trouble understanding. Discretion is advised.
Alison Lester has lived and experienced life in the high country, and her love for this land and her experiences shine through in her description of life looking after cattle in remote areas during both drought and snow season.
Young protagonist, Dusty is tough and courageous and she’s her Dad’s right hand man. She loves, respects and admires him, but during the events in this story, Dusty must deal with the realization that her father is human, with human traits, especially when coping with hardship on the land. This is particularly difficult for Dusty, who, at only 11 years of age, is still very much a child in a lot of ways and more grown up in others.
Whilst some of the themes are quite adult, we must remember there are many young children out in the world facing up to and dealing with very raw and hard life issues and this story may help them identify with the protagonist or one of the other characters in the story. It may help them realise that they are not alone.
This book is delicious in it’s world building and the author is adept at giving the reader a real sense of what the high country is like. It took me a little while to get into the first section of the story and, when I reached the second part, I wondered if I was reading two short stories at first. But after a page or so of reading in Part 2, I found the connection and the story hit its rhythm and pace. I felt there was much more action in the second part of the book and a good tale.
I identified and connected with this story because as a young girl, I too lived in a vast area of the outback for many years, riding around on my horses in the bush and scrub. Reading this story brought back lots of memories for me.
Being a visual learner/reader, I particularly enjoy reading books that have mud maps like this one did. I also enjoyed the beautiful illustrations and photographs sprinkled throughout the story.
The Snow Pony is well worth a read, especially if you love the wilderness areas, horses and the country life of farms and the simplicity of its people. This book deals with relationships between family and local communities and was an enjoyable read.
I was lucky enough to purchase my copy directly from Alison Lester when she came to Noosa Library back on 22 July, 2017. I attended her author talk and I volunteered at a Children’s workshop she put on for free for local kidlets.
Allen & Unwin 2016
First Published in 2001 by Allen & Unwin
ISBN (AUS) 978 1 76029213 3
ISBN (UK) 978 1 74336864 0
Retail price: $17.00