Lothian Books, Hachette, Australia, 2021
Artist-writer Mandy Foot has tackled some interesting and important issues in this beautifully presented work.
The surface story is of a little girl growing up and having to stop riding her beloved pony. The application of this to a wider context is clear – we all have to cope with change and loss and to support others as they do so. Lucy’s Pa is a gentle adult figure in the story guiding her through the difficult path to acceptance and the finding of new joy.
Underneath this main plot is the story of the new pony himself. Pa has rescued him from a drought ravaged part of the country where he has grown thin and a bit bedraggled. Many parts of Australia are prone to drought and certainly in recent years the effects of a changing climate have accentuated this problem. The pony comes to a new, strange home, and Pa is sure he needs Lucy’s love even when she has not yet come to terms with her own needs and sadness.
This is a story brimful with human kindness. It’s a charming, gentle tale told with equally readable charming paintings. Mandy Foot brings her love of animals to the page with great sensitivity along with her understanding of the special bond they can develop with people. A long creative career in illustration of all sorts of animals, including zoo residents, has clearly enabled her to translate keen observation into highly appealing book visuals.
I found this book and its gentleness very attractive. The human-human and human-animal relationships are equally tender and will touch readers and listeners of all ages. Best of all, there is a happy ending for everyone, which includes some life lessons and resolutions which leave no losers.
Thank you to Hachette/Lothian for the review copy and to Mandy for sharing your story and experiences in discussing this delightful new book with me.