The Fire Pony

The Fire Pony

4.7 10
by Rodman Philbrick

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From the author of Freak the Mighty, a stirring tale of an orphan boy with a frightening secret... Joe Dilly has a secret way with horses--and with fire. His kid brother, Roy, knows about both secrets, but he's not telling. Not when he and Joe hire on at the Bar None, a ranch that has a few secrets of its own. At the ranch Roy, finds a wild pony that can run like the…  See more details below


From the author of Freak the Mighty, a stirring tale of an orphan boy with a frightening secret... Joe Dilly has a secret way with horses--and with fire. His kid brother, Roy, knows about both secrets, but he's not telling. Not when he and Joe hire on at the Bar None, a ranch that has a few secrets of its own. At the ranch Roy, finds a wild pony that can run like the desert wind--and if he can break that pony, he can keep her. In a thrilling scene, Roy's dream comes true when he races the pny of his dreams. (copy continues)

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Tim Whitney
Roy Dilly would still be in a foster home if his older brother Joe had not come one day to rescue him. Joe takes good care of his younger brother and has a sixth sense when it comes to understanding and communicating with horses, but his obsession with fire keeps both brothers on the run. Roy wants to settle down when they reach the Bar None, where he falls in love with a very special pony named Lady, but the past seems to have a way of catching up with the two brothers. Reminiscent of S. E. Hinton's style of realistic language and theme of rebellious adolescents without a parental figure, this action-filled book would be a good choice for the reluctant reader.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7Young orphaned Roy and his arsonist adult brother, Joe Dilly, are heading West, fleeing an earlier arson scene and looking for work on a horse ranch. At the Bar None, they find a place where they can avoid the law and earn their keep. Roy can also earn a pony, if he can break her. Lady is a beautiful, wild palomino that has already stolen his heart, but even if she lets him ride her, he worries that Joe Dilly's uncontrollable emotions and fascination with fire will destroy all of his hopes and force them to move on yet again. Philbrick discloses just the right amount of detail about Joe Dilly's fires to create concern for young Roy and draw readers into the story. Roy's first-person description blends smoothly into authentic dialogue with a Western accent. The characters are fully developed, showing both strengths and weaknesses. However, the "horse whisperer" effect Joe Dilly has on totally unmanageable horses is a bit far-fetched. Some of the horses' behaviors are equally unrealistic, as when Joe Dilly rides a crazy stallion bareback through the side of a burning barn. But the story on the whole has plenty of action and suspense and is a good choice for encouraging reluctant readers.Christina Linz, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL
Chris Sherman
There's no doubt that trouble lies ahead; 11-year-old Roy warns readers on the first page that he's "still pretty worried about the bad stuff catching up." Readers will know it's just a matter of time before everything blows up, but in the meantime, they'll be pulled quickly into a satisfying story about a boy who finds peace for a time on a horse ranch. Roy idolizes his older half-brother, Joe, who rescued him from a foster home. Although Joe is a skilled blacksmith, his temper sometimes gets the best of him, and they have to move on. When Joe finds work at the Bar None Ranch, Roy hopes they will be able to stay for a while. Joe gets along well with the owner, who has taken a shine to Roy and has given him a pony to train. Philbrick offers lots of interesting details about ranch life and training and racing horses, but it's the tension that will hook readers till the dramatic conclusion. Although less emotionally wrenching than Philbrick's "Freak the Mighty" (1993), this story may be more accessible for younger readers.
Kirkus Reviews
True to its name, the Bar None ranch offers a haven to a pair of drifters: an 11-year-old orphan, Roy, "rescued" from a foster home, and his loyal, hot-headed half-brother, Joe Dilly. Joe has an intuitive gift for handling horses, but his hair-trigger temper has already led to a barn-burning that Roy knows wasn't an accident. Roy, a born rider, is given a quartermile runner, Lady Luck, to train for a race. With an old-fashioned fever remedy, Joe saves Lady Luck's life after a cougar attack, but Joe can't cure his own fever. Triggered by mischief against Roy, Joe's vengeful nature is unleashed, with tragic consequences. Crisply eventful, pungent in its descriptions, crackling with action, Philbrick (Freak the Mighty, 1993) has created a real dilly of a novel.

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
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File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Rodman Philbrick is the author of six award-winning novels for young readers. His first novel, Freak the Mighty, won the California Young Reader Medal. It was received with great acclaim and has sold more than a million copies. The sequel, Max the Mighty, received starred reviews, and his novel The Fire Pony was named a 1996 Capital Choice. His more recent books for the Blue Sky Press are REM World; The Last Book in the Universe, which was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and The Young Man and the Sea, which received a starred review from School Library Journal. He and his wife live in Maine and the Florida Keys.

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Fire Pony 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'you can never put it down,it constantly keeps you at the ede of your seat with action'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
parkesaurus More than 1 year ago
Follows young Roy and his much older half-brother Joe Dilly as they find work on the Bar None Ranch. There's a fire in Joe Dilly that comes alive and worries Roy that Joe might do something regrettable, forcing them to leave like has happened before. The vernacular (writing like you speak, like incorrect grammar and slang like ' ain't ') is good without being overdone, Roy's feelings are understandable, and the dramatic ending sweeps you off your feet. I enjoy books a LOT and love to read, but few move me like this one, which is surprising from a short 'young adult' book like this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amzing and it is an exilirating read.Find a comfy chair and start reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We are doing a class project on a novel and we chose this book. The cover looked good and it made it look interesting. We read about half of it weren't impressed with it. It was not a great book, it lost my interest very easily and the plot was hard to figure out so it's very hard to do a book report on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was an outstanding,wild story. It's about a young boy named Roy, who's parents died by a drung driver. He and his older brother Joe,go to an old ranch. They encounter many exciting events. Later on in the story Roy discovers the powers that he has with horses.At the end of this book you might encounter a tear or two,I know I did!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is my favorite! I have read this novel many times because i love it so much. It's not just for horse lovers, it has a lot of adventure also.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry if people spoil the ending for you, but it is a fast-pase rollar-coaster ride that is smooth with usspected turns and twists. Good Fun
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was the best!!!!!! I think it is sooo cool that Roy got to ride in the show even though he was too young. It was sad at the end when Joe was stuck in the fire.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title might not sound that interesting but it's a wonderful book!!! Read it today!!!