CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 13. . . .November 30, 2012
Pit Pony: The Picture Book retells the classic story, Pit Pony (CM Archive Vol. 19, No. 1, Jan. 1991), for a younger audience of readers. When his father and his brother John are injured in a rock fall accident in the coal mines of Cape Breton, 11-year-old Willie steps up to take their place in order to ensure his family is taken care of while the older men of the house heal from injury. His father emphasizes, "now you're the man of the house, Willie." Although Willie, placing more value on his formal education, didn't foresee himself working in the mines, with his persistent work ethic, he is able to help his family through its difficult time. And despite the bullying antics of Simon Ross, an older boy and former classmate, Willie remains dedicated to his job through the sound companionship of Gem, the title's pit pony.
Willie is a compassionate, devoted, and heroic character. Not only does he help his family, he also saves Simon Ross' life. Readers are gifted with an array of emotions through Sydney Smith's incredibly realistic ink and watercolour illustrations. Smith's softly illustrated narrative effectively complement and capture the sombre emotions of the coal mine environment and the Cape Breton setting of Barkhouse's story.
Natalie Schembri studies children's literature at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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