Title: Maddie's Dream (Marguerite Henry's Ponies of Chincoteague #1)
Author: Catherine Hapka
Publisher: Aladdin, 2014. 91 pages (per my Nook. Paperback is listed as 224 pages).
Source: Library (digital)
Maddie is desperate to keep her favorite horse from being sold in this first book in a contemporary middle grade series in the tradition of Marguerite Henry's "Misty of Chincoteague." Madison "Maddie" Martinez loves her weekly riding lessons, and she loves working with her favorite horse, Cloudy, every time. So she is shocked when she finds out Cloudy's former owners might want to buy her back! Maddie desperately concocts various plans to stop the sale: maybe she can raise money to buy Cloudy herself, or what if she can make the potential buyers lose interest? Maddie's online Pony Post friends--Brooke Rhodes, Hayley Duncan, Nina Peralt, who all share a love of Cincoteague ponies--can tell something is up, but at first Maddie is afraid to tell them what's happening. If she loses her only connection to Chincoteague, will they even want to be friends with her anymore?
This was a quick, horsey read for younger middle-grade readers. The personal issues and aspects are present, but the horse interest is, in my opinion, higher. The story is well-written, moves quickly, and proceeds without much diversion toward the expected conclusion. The tie-in to Misty of Chincoteague is tenuous, at best: the series is based on the idea of a number of tweens around the country who own, or ride (as in Maddie's case) Chincoteague ponies. The girls are on-line friends through a network Maddie has established. The main thing I felt this book shared with Misty was reading level, and a kid who is in love with a horse over all other interests (that's pretty well in keeping with Paul and Maureen Bebee).
Maddie's problem is real enough to make young readers sympathize with her, and her solutions will seem either clever or absurd depending on the sophistication of the reader. The solution to the problem felt a little too easy to me, but in a way it was just a side-note anyway--the real story is how Maddie deals with the threat.
Girls between about 8 and 11 who are horse-crazy will probably enjoy this book (and presumably the series). Any child who has read all Henry's books about Misty and her descendants will appreciate the tie-in, however tenuous, and will sympathize with Maddie's struggle to keep the horse she loves.
Full Disclosure: I checked Maddie's Dream out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."