Out of the north

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Good writing for newly independent readers can be the most difficult to find. This is partly because children's book award shortlists often ignore this category and partly because of the uneven quality of so many of the books. Pony in the Dark by K M Peyton (Corgi pound;3.99) is an excellent example of what a good writer can do with the short chapter-book form. It tells a moving story, set about a hundred years ago, about a boy and his Shetland pony who travel south from the Shetland Isles to have a discomforting adventure in the mines of Sunderland.

Everything about the book combines to make a quality reading experience for enthusiastic young bookworms, from the cover illustration by Jason Cockcroft and the inside artwork by Robin Lawrie to the assured pace and tone of an exceptional storyteller. So unpatronising is the style of the writing, that at times an adult might easily imagine they are reading a John Steinbeck novella. A wonderful book for Year 3 and above.

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