HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Ghost Pony or The Mystery of Pony Hollow
Author: Lynn Hall
Illustrator: Ruth Sanderson
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers, republished 1992
ISBN-13: 978-0811664042 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 081166404X Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0679830528 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0679830529 Paperback
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 7-9
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hall, Lynn. The Ghost Pony or The Mystery of Pony Hollow (Published in 1978 by Garrard Publishing Company, Champaign, IL 61820; republished by Weekly Reader Books, Middletown, CT). Sarah Elgin lives with her father and mother on the old Makenna farm, which her family has recently bought, near the Snake River in central Iowa, so she is now able to have her own black mare pony named Panda, which she keeps in a stall marked with the name “Oberon.” Sarah doesn’t believe in ghosts. But then she and Panda explore Pony Hollow on her family’s farm, and she hears a frantic whinnying and kicking from an abandoned old stone house. Panda is spooked and runs away, but determined to rescue the animal trapped inside, Sarah breaks open the door and is shocked to find it empty with only a dusty old pony skeleton and the rotting remains of an old leather halter bearing a metal nameplate marked “Oberon” instead.
As Sarah searches for the answer to this haunting question, she comes in touch with Miss Jeanne Makenna, the daughter of the former owner of her farm who is now the County Health Nurse. That in turn leads her to Aaron Donel, the former Irish groom at Makenna Farm who is now in a nursing home and no longer quite right mentally. Will she ever learn the secret of Oberon? Why was its skeleton found in the old house? And what was making those noises that she heard? Originally published as The Mystery of Pony Hollow, the book was renamed when issued by Weekly Reader Books. It has now been republished again under the original title as a Stepping Stone Book in1992 by Random House Books for Young Readers.
This is a great book for any kid who loves horses, a good story, and a fun mystery. It’s a fairly easy read and can be finished in an afternoon. The ghostly aspect of the story is very subtle and understated, and the mystery of the book is skillfully unraveled, so that it might appeal to young people who don’t ordinarily care for ghost stories. The ending is a bit sad but satisfying. The book also has some great illustrations. It is interesting how different people come away from the same story with entirely opposite conclusions. One reader reviewer said, “This book was really really really lame,” while another wrote, “It was amazing.” I guess that it all depends on what one is looking for. Apparently, there was a sequel, The Mystery of Pony Hollow Panda (1983) also by Lynn Hall, with the following description: “When her pony disappears from the pet parade, Sarah follows the clues and tries to unravel the mystery.”