Told in rhyme, Wild Colt tells the story of a wild pony on Chincoteague Island in Virginia and is written by Lois Szymanski. The colt lives among the wild life on the island with its mom. We enjoyed the simple story and especially the realistic, yet simple illustrations by Linda Kantjas. I was taken by surprise by the end of the story when the pony is sold at auction. Upon the second reading, the front cover flap was explored, and I learned that on Chincoteague Island there is an annual Pony Penning auction. This helped me to understand the story's context and appreciate it so much more!
Milk so warm
Tail is switching
Flies that swarm"
I also appreciated all of the other wildlife included in the story-text and illustrations. In the back of Wild Colt, the reader also finds a (brief) wetland creature guide, as well as some wetland facts and a brief discussion guide.
P.L. Caudle penned the other book that captured my attention: The Tale of Strawberry Snow. Also with rhyming text, this title tells the tale of a white horse with red freckles called Strawberry Snow. Strawberry Snow is born on Chincoteague Island and exits her barn to see the big blue sky. She quickly finds a friend in Oliver, a spider who lives in the wood box who braves the cold winter. The ending is rather sweet.
"And to this very day,
Strawberry Snow plays
Near the web in the bin
Where Oliver stays."
We really enjoy this book. Personally, I would prefer the illustrations to be created in only one style. Digitally created (according to the book flap) by Frank H. Simmonds, IV, the landscape and barn are soft, beautiful images. However, the creatures of the story, Strawberry Snow, her mother, and Oliver the spider, are all very much cartoonish, complete with bold, black outlines around them. I found this contrast within the illustrations rather distracting, though the targeted audience of preschool through grade 3 likely wouldn't mind. It also helps to draw attention to the animals of the story, which can be a good thing. (Strawberry Snow also has pale blue eyes that seem a bit odd and unrealistic to me.)
These books make me want to read Misty of Chincoteague sooner than later. Wild Colt and The Tale of Strawberry Snow would be great choices for a unit study of Virginia or before vacationing on Chincoteague Island or the Chesapeake Bay.
Thank you, Schiffer Books, for sending these books our way. You can take a peek inside at all the illustrations at their site, too.