A TPH Book Review by Meg Rosenthal
Most little girls never forget their first pony. In Jump the Moon, a beautiful children’s book by Kathy Simmers, this notion is championed as the book follows the journey between the girl with long blond hair and her pony, “Me Too,” as they bond together through mutual understanding and compassion. This heartwarming tale, coupled with delightful illustrations, succeeds in building empathy between the characters and the reader as it’s a story that the little horse girl in all of us once dreamed about.
While beginning this book, even though I was charmed, I did fear that the story of a young girl and a wild pony might dip into cliché. However, one of the real strengths of this book was how Simmers addresses a very real issue seen in today’s equine show industry. About halfway through the book, just as the girl and Me Too are in the height of their partnership, the two of them part ways. In a skillful manipulation of time, Simmers charts how the girl grows up, goes to college, and eventually marries, while Me Too continues to move through different homes before ending up in a field.
Simmers expertly demonstrates the very real trajectory of how show ponies move through multiple barns and care and how not all of them find a peaceful final home. Simmers also provides readers with Me Too’s perspective as she bounces from home to home in the book, and the foundation of partnership between horse and rider is lost. Unfortunately, there are many scenarios in which horses and ponies may be thought of as a means to an end; when you are finished with them, you sell and move on. It is this underlying problem that results in lack of attention to retirement in show ponies and horses.
However, this book did have the happy ending both Me Too and the girl deserved as they were reunited in the end. This was a very satisfying conclusion to the sweet story as their journey came full circle. Additionally, I thought the narrator’s note at the end of the book stating that this was based on a true story was a sweet touch.
I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. For the young, aspiring equestrian reader who has dreams of owning their own pony, the sing-song quality to the language as well as the beautiful pictures will surely appeal. For the older, more seasoned equestrian who might be jaded to the simple foundation of love that horseback riding was founded on, this book serves as a reminder to appreciate the simpler times and the dream that we could once jump the moon.
Jump the Moon is available for purchase at readjumpthemoon.com
Originally from the December 2020 issue.