I ordered Catch Rider by Jennifer Lynefor Kindle last year, and hadn’t had a chance to read it. When I learned that Ms. Lyne was going got be signing her book at the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival (she currently lives in NYC) a couple weeks ago, I decided to break the virtual spine and start reading. I couldn’t put it down. Sidney, the main character, has such an honest and strong voice. Her view of the world, as described by Jennifer Lyne, comes to life, in detail, drawing in even the most non-horsey of people into the world of a young woman struggling with class issues, personal tragedy and how to escape from her hometown by doing what she loves, riding.
While I didn’t grow up riding horses every day, after reading this book, I felt as though I had. Ms. Lyne’s attention to detail was a master class in equitation riding, the show world and how much effort it takes to succeed for someone who doesn’t have a fortune. Sidney won my heart; I instantly fell in love with her. As a mother, I wanted to take care of her, and couldn’t wait to read what she would do next. I felt as if I were there with Sidney and her uncle at the (spoiler alert) Maclay finals in NYC; found myself trying to calm my own nerves on her behalf.
Sidney’s perspective about her rural Virginia life, and her extreme brevity is compelling, and I will be sure to have both my children read Catch Rider when they are old enough. Kids don’t need to be in the horse world to learn from Ms. Lyne’s themes. Doing what you love, hard work and holding your head up high no matter what your background, are lessons we all need to learn.
“I want a pony. I want a pony more than anything else in the world.” The artist and children’s book author and illustrator, Susan Jeffers opens her book, My Pony, with these words. What little (or big) child bit by the horse bug hasn’t uttered this phrase? This is a book about a little girl, who dreams of having her own pony. Her family cannot afford one, so she draws a beautiful dappled grey mare named Silver, who becomes her dreamy equine companion.
My Pony (Cover)
I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jeffers this past weekend at the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival this past weekend, (the CCBF is one of the most notable of book festivals in the NYC area). A rider herself (in fact, she used to have a horse not too far from where my son and I ride), Jeffers’ love for horses and children’s imaginations shines through in her beautifully illustrated books.
Jeffers has been writing and illustrating picture books for over forty years. She received the Caldecott Honor for Three Jovial Huntsman and has been honored with many other awards, including the Golden Kite Award for Forest of Dreams. Susan says she realizes now that she has always done the same things. When Susan was little, her best moments were spent drawing pictures, reading stories with her parents, playing with friends and sitting by the Ramapo River dreaming of horses. This has not changed. Being a children’s book illustrator has combined all of these things.
I read it to my daughter, Annalise, yesterday and she, even at three years old, loved it; she keeps flipping through the pages, perhaps dreaming of her own pony. I’m excited to read the next pony installment, My Chincoteague Pony.
Susan signed a copy and made a pony sketch on the inside front page especially for Annalise. We’ll have to be careful not to beat it up too much, but it will be a book that she and I will cherish for years. Click here to see a list of her other selections available on Amazon.com.