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Jump The Moon
Review by Nancy Brannon
In the late spring and early summer, when children are anticipating going to Summer Horse Camp, they may have dreams of bonding with a special pony or horse. A little girl’s dream of bonding with a special pony is the theme in Kathy Simmers’ book Jump The Moon, illustrated by Marjorie Van Heerden. Author Simmers told us, “The bond between the girl and the pony was truly magical.”
The book tells the story of a girl with long blond hair “who had always dreamed of having a pony that she could love forever.” She has never had a pony of her own, but works in a horse barn where she can partially live out her dream.
One day “a scruffy gray pony” named Me Too is brought to the barn for training. But the pony turns out to have a very ill temperament and the trainer has to warn everyone about her potential to kick, as the pony pins her ears back and bares her teeth, leaving everyone at the barn afraid of the pony, except the girl with the long blond hair. The trainer decides Me Too can be the girl’s summer project and she can ride the pony every day.
How would you react to such a pony and try to change this behavior? The girl with the long blond hair takes a positive approach. Whenever the pony shows signs of ill temperament, the girl just pats her and whispers, “I love you, pony.” Over the summer, the girl gives the pony special care, grooming, riding her, and especially giving her treats – pony cookies. Through kindness and TLC, the pony’s behavior changes and she comes to look forward to the girl’s attention and enjoys their gallops and jumping across the countryside. When she takes the now-spiffy pony to horse shows, the pair are frequent class winners.
But when summer is over, Me Too had to go back to her old home. And, later, the pony is sold several times, moving from home to home.
Here’s where the book gets rather anthropomorphic, but that’s expected in a children’s fantasy story.
The pony misses the girl more than ever and begins to dream about the girl. Over the course of seven years, the girl grows up, goes to college, gets married, and moves far away. Then she begins to dream about the pony, too, and she decides she needs to find this pony. Thus, a search for the gray pony begins.
The remainder of the book is about the search and the ultimate re-uniting of the girl and the pony Me Too. It’s a happily ever after story, as the girl dreams of jumping the moon on this lovely pony.
Simmers told us that “the back story of Jump the Moon is amazing.” At the end of the book, Simmers explains the true circumstances behind the book: how the girl with the long blond hair, her daughter Denise, rode with Merilee Ventura at Byway Farms and spent one summer riding Me Too. She also tells about her dreams of the pony, her search to find the pony, and their eventual reunion.
About the author: Kathy Simmers was one of those girls who always wanted to live on a farm with horses, and she bought her first horse at age nineteen. Simmers says the message of the book is to never give up on your dreams.
For me, the book is not only about how we treat horses, but also about how we treat other people, especially those who are mean. Perhaps finding out why they behave with meanness and treating them with kindness in return is a viable way to resolve personal relationships.
Read an interview with Simmers about the book at: https://www.allpony.com/author-of-jump-the-moon/ and find her on facebook at Kathy Simmers.
About the illustrator: Marjorie Van Heerden was three months old when she “rode” a horse for the first time. As a child, her best friend was her horse Billy Boy. She grew up on a farm at the southernmost tip of Africa, where she drew animals, people, dragons, monsters, and fairies. She is also illustrator of the Hoop ‘n’ Holler book series, The Adventures of Willy Nilly andThumper books, the StorieMuis series, and many others. See more of her illustrations at: https://www.scbwi.org/members-public/marjorie-van-heerden
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