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Season of Ponies

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Left with her two aunts at Oaks Farm to spend the entire summer, Pamela is greatly disappointed and wonders how she will survive. But one day, she sees a boy accompanied by a herd of beautiful ponies. Are they a dream, or is her summer about to become an adventure? The author is a three-time Newbery Honor Book winner.

144 pages, Paperback

First published June 28, 1964

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About the author

Zilpha Keatley Snyder

70 books419 followers
The recipient of three Newbery Honor Book awards for The Egypt Game, The Headless Cupid, and The Witches of Worm, Zilpha Keatley Snyder began writing books for children in 1964 when her first book, A Season of Ponies, was published. Over the course of the career she completed 43 books, mostly for children aged 9 to 13, but also including two books for young adults, four picture books for younger children and a book of poetry.

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5 stars
128 (44%)
4 stars
85 (29%)
3 stars
62 (21%)
2 stars
11 (3%)
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2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,258 reviews404 followers
July 18, 2018
This was a wonderful read, it could have been longer but we loved it. I would have loved to read this as a Child, the motherless girl with a love for horses, longing for friendship would have really appealed to me. Pamela lives with her Aunts, her mother died and her father works away. When she is given a necklace from her Grandmother she feels something is going to happen that summer. She meets Ponyboy and his coloured friendly ponies, they become friends and have adventures until their their love of fairy tales culminates in a scary encounter with a Hansel and Gretel witch cross with Circe character.

As often happens, this copy has been given a new cover. The illustrations inside are wonderful, subtle and slightly childlike, my daughter said they looked like Tove Jansson artwork. How sad they have replaced the cover and the new illustrator hasn't even flicked through the book as they would have found that the children are younger and the girl has long straight dark hair she always wore in plaits, and the horse has a fluffy cloud of a mane, whereas the horse in the picture doesn't appear to even have one. The new cover makes the book look like a YA romance. So frustrating when publishers choose to do this!

We love the magic and the ponies and the music. A very special book, great escapism.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,174 reviews187 followers
May 23, 2019
Pamela, the young protagonist of this first Zilpha Keatley Snyder book, is bitterly disappointed when her traveling salesman father deposits her in the care of her aunts at Oak Farm. Her expectations of a dull summer are happily unfulfilled however, when the magic amulet that once belonged to her maternal grandmother summons Ponyboy, a wild, fairy-like boy, and his herd of pastel ponies.

This charming debut novel marked the beginning of a long and successful career for Snyder, who has been a runner-up three times for the Newbery Medal. It is set, like almost all of Snyder's stories, in her native California, and introduces the reader to her uniquely powerful conception of magic, in which the imagination itself plays such a crucial role. It is illustrated by the wonderful Alton Raible, with whom Snyder had a long-standing professional partnership (much like Ruth M. Arthur and Margery Gill). Snyder was one of my "kiddie-lit" projects for 2006, and this initial title provided a very good beginning...
Profile Image for Sonia Gomes.
317 reviews95 followers
June 3, 2020
A young girl very lonely in the company of her Aunts, finds that she is able to meet Ponyboy and his herd of wondrous, colorful, silken ponies and has wonderful adventures with them.

She is able to be strong enough for her Father to take her with him, to a life she has always wanted.

You can feel the sadness and the loneliness emanating from the girl.

The book dwells in the realms of Fantasy, totally unlike the other books Zilpha Keatley Snyder has written
Profile Image for L. Chambers-Wright.
Author 22 books3 followers
April 10, 2011
This was my favorite book during my childhood. It was my fondest escape to go away with the mysterious horses.
Profile Image for Laura Wright.
Author 8 books6 followers
March 4, 2011
I found this book when I was small and honestly don't know how many times I read it. The book progresses nicely and is perfect for anyone seeking a little escapism.
372 reviews4 followers
November 17, 2012
Read this book as a kid/teen and remember the beautiful imagery of the ponies and also the just-creepy-enough subplot of fear and darkness. A good book to read during the day, or when you know your parents are in the house with you!
Profile Image for Ona.
14 reviews64 followers
November 30, 2010
It was my favorite booke when I was 9. I am almost afraid to re-read it.
Profile Image for Joni.
300 reviews2 followers
September 14, 2013
My favorite book as a child. I recently bought it for my daughter who is not big on reading and she loved it!
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 13 books7 followers
December 24, 2015
Season of Ponies isn't so much interesting as a book on its own as it is an indicator of Snyder's later work. So many of her persistent themes are already apparent: a young protagonist, trapped in a lonely old house with a curt authority figure and distant or absent parents; a direct use of imagination and imaginative play to help the protagonist grow; the mysterious play-partner; and, finally, a question of "What is real?" There are direct correlations to be made with The Egypt Game (one chapter is even called "The Circus Game") and, even more, The Changeling. There are even links to Snyder's most recent work at the time of writing, The Treasures of Weatherby - over four decades later.

That's not to say Season of Ponies doesn't have an interesting story; any 8-year-old horse lover will adore the simple tale of Pamela's summer with her mysterious friend Ponyboy (a name that dates the book more than anything else). Fans expecting a deeper and more developed Snyder book might be disappointed, though; the chapters here are short and to the point, with prose that, while never condescending, never quite excites, either. This is very much Snyder-in-progress, and in many ways feels more like an expanded short story than anything novel-length.

Overall, though, Snyder's first book is a success; you can see why she was immediately successful as a children's writer and manages to remain readable to this day. Even the Alton Raible illustrations, so common to many of her books, are present here and quite enjoyable (being rather more cartoony than in later stories). Any Zilpha Keatley Snyder fan should hunt this one down, just to see how Season of Ponies sparked off a whole career of quality children's books.
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 15 books835 followers
August 8, 2017
Pamela lives a rather dreary life at Oak Tree Farm - there aren't any horses, and she's homeschooled, and her father has just gone back on his promise to take her with him, leaving her with her two stiff aunts for the whole summer. Her father does give her a medallion, and then that Pamela sees the ponies. Led by a free-spirited boy she calls Ponyboy, Pamela embarks on a fairy tale summer complete with stories and circus games and even a swamp witch.

I first discovered Zilpha Keatley Snyder in the 5th grade, and I've been searching for this book since I saw it listed under "Also by..." in the front of one of her books. It was always out of print online, but I found this copy on a visit to the Book Barn in Niantic, CT. I can't even tell you how happy finding this book made me. I fell under her spell just like when I was a child. Let me know you how hard i would have loved this book in 5th grade, when I was also horse crazy. This book took me right back to those days. If I could have read this sitting under a tree or curled up in bed on a rainy day, my life would have been complete. Of course none of this tells you anything about the story, but Zilpha Keatley Snyder has a way of capturing those moments in childhood when your imagination is huge, and there's no judgment, just a magical place.

(Just a random side note: the "Pig Woman" aka the swamp witch seemed to be based on Circe which I thought was pretty cool - I liked how Pamela's classical homeschooling let her be able to solve this short conflict in the story).
Profile Image for LobsterQuadrille.
924 reviews
August 8, 2020
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I generally enjoy Zilpha Keatley Snyder's earlier books more than the recent ones, when she wrote books with such beauty and originality as Season of Ponies before her books started to feel more earthbound and run-of-the-mill. This is a pretty slim book, but it has such a pervasive sense of wonder and mystery that somehow it doesn't feel underdeveloped. Most of the strange happenings of Pamela's summer go completely unexplained and the lines between imagination and reality seem delicately blurred.

Usually I would be annoyed by so many unexplained events in a story, but here I think too many answers would ruin its impact. Not knowing the truth about the amulet or Ponyboy puts you more in the main character's place, since she just comes to accept the events of her summer without needing to question them. Season of Ponies is a unique, dreamlike little book almost certain to captivate anyone who has loved Snyder's stories before.
Profile Image for Lisa.
153 reviews29 followers
January 26, 2020
Zilpha Keatley Snyder was one of my favorite writers as a kid, but I had never read this book until recently. It has its moments (the magical ponies!) but I'm surprised to see how high the GoodReads ratings are. For me, this one was missing something. I wanted more of an explanation and was disappointed that the book ended without providing that.
Profile Image for Kirsten.
2,232 reviews33 followers
February 10, 2018
So I recently decided - as one does? - that I want to read all of Zilpha Keatley Snyder's books, in order, so I am starting at the beginning here.... This book is entirely driven by magical ponies. There's no other reason to read it. *grin* There's some minorly sexist dialogue, but mostly those parts just made me roll my eyes.
Profile Image for Katie.
534 reviews11 followers
January 19, 2020
As other reviewers have said, Synder's themes of magic and self-discovery are on display here even in her first work. I'd never encountered this one as a child, but I would have loved to. The Kindle version I have is part of a collection, so no there are no illustrations, but it is very easy to picture everything all the same.
Profile Image for Virginia.
536 reviews
May 17, 2021
This was one of my very, very favorite best-beloved books as a child. I wanted to re-read it and could not find a copy. Happy to see that others are appreciating it in 2021! It is a timeless sort of fantasy.
Profile Image for jess.
852 reviews75 followers
July 8, 2020
I man. Can we all agree this book is basically perfect? 🤷🏻‍♀️
11 reviews
July 8, 2023
Beautifully done.

After many memories of reading this with my mother, I introduced it to my seven year old daughter. It has inspired another generation of reading. Love this book!
Profile Image for Michaela.
101 reviews11 followers
January 28, 2020
One of my very favorite books growing up, and still so magical today.
Profile Image for Rachel Brown.
Author 20 books159 followers
July 12, 2014
Pamela, a lonely little girl, lives in an isolated house with her two aunts (one nice, one distant and strict). Her absentee father visits occasionally, and her mom is dead. But her life gets a lot more fun when she gets a magic amulet that enables her to meet a mysterious boy her own age and his herd of pastel ponies.

Obviously, the best part of this book is the pastel ponies. Who wouldn't want a herd of pink, blue, sunset, and sunrise-colored ponies named after clouds? I wish I'd read this book when I was nine, because I would have absolutely reveled in the pretty, pretty ponies.

Ponyboy is annoying - the book was written when it was common to portray boys being sexist as cute and funny, and that has not aged well. But like I said: pretty, pretty pink ponies! If you think you'd like that, you will certainly enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Jules.
106 reviews4 followers
September 24, 2007
I adored this book and read it over and over when I was 10. Then I outgrew horses as many adolescent girls do, but I was haunted by the imagery from this story. I'd confused the title by then and it took me YEARS to rediscover it. I was thrilled when I was able to buy a copy for my own library shelves.
Profile Image for Holly.
306 reviews
November 8, 2015
This was my absolute favorite book in third grade — I went to my elementary school library a few years ago and the tag in the book showed me checking it out about eight times in a row -- and upon rereading, I can see why. It has ponies, freedom from adults, creepiness, magic...all the right ingredients, and in just the right proportions.
Profile Image for Trice.
536 reviews86 followers
July 9, 2016
I was given this book at some point in my early teen years, read and loved it, and then it disappeared. And I never could seem to find it again, or find it listed anywhere - which seemed to go with the storyline very well. Now I have finally rediscovered it and am wondering if I want to reread or if that would spoil this spell of mystery that hangs over its memory. :)
Profile Image for Nancy.
2,449 reviews54 followers
July 10, 2015
Another wonderful book by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Her fantasy is grounded in reality and feels believable. I loved these books as a child and I'm enjoying them again as an adult. This one felt like it happened in the hills here in Sonoma County. It is nice to see growth in the adults as well as the central child character.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews

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