Read an Excerpt
Magic Pony Carousel #1: Sparkle the Circus Pony EPB
"Step up, step up for the most exciting ride of your lives! Choose your favorite pony and let Barker's Magic Pony Carousel whisk you away on an amazing adventure!"
Megan felt tingly all over when she heard the voice booming across the fairground. A Magic Pony Carousel? She couldn't think of anything more wonderful!
"That's the ride I'd like to go on next!" she told her mom. "Can I, please?"
"I thought you didn't like ponies anymore," her mom teased. "That's what you said when you fell off in your riding lesson last week."
Megan thought for a moment. It was true that falling off had made her a bit nervous about real ponies. "But carousel ponies will be a lot safer," she said.
"Yes, they will," agreed her mom. "Though I'm not sure why you're worried about ponies when you're so crazy about gymnastics. That's just as dangerous, if you ask me!"
Megan laughed. "Oh, no," she said. "In gymnastics there are nice thick mats to land on!"
The Magic Pony Carousel stood in a far corner of the field, next to a cotton candy stand. The base was painted in swirling patterns of red, gold, and silver, and twinkling colored lights hung from the roof. The horses were fixed to twisty golden poles, rising up and down in time with the music. Megan thought she'd never be able to decide which one to ride. They all looked lovely. There was a beautiful chestnut Arab horse with a pretty star and a flowing mane and tail . . . a majestic bay knight's charger dressed for battle . . . a pretty Appaloosa with a Western saddle and bridle. . . .
And then she saw thefourth horse, which had a feathery pink headdress that sparkled in the twinkling lights. He had no saddle or reins at all, and his dappled back looked smooth and comfortable. His neck was proudly arched, but his big brown eyes were warm and friendly and his snow-white tail streamed out behind him.
"It's a circus pony!" Megan breathed. She could already imagine herself under the bright lights in a circus ring, wearing a spangly sequined costume.
She left her mom and ran over for a closer look. There was a name written on a scroll hanging from the twisty pole.
"'Sparkle,'" Megan read. "Perfect."
As she gazed up at the pony, she felt a tickle in her nose. It grew and grew and grew until Megan couldn't stop it. "Ahhh-choo!" she sneezed.
"Bless you!" cried a voice.
Megan spun around. A tall man was smiling down at her. He looked very different from the other fairground people. He was wearing a red velvet suit with a bright green lining and a stripy green-and-red top hat, with wisps of white hair peeping from underneath.
"I am Mr. Barker," he announced with a bow. "And this is my world-famous Magic Pony Carousel. Here, take a hanky." He pulled a whole string of colored handkerchiefs out of his pocket.
"Wow!" gasped Megan. "Thank you!" She picked out a pink hanky with yellow flowers.
"Have you chosen which pony you're going to ride?" asked Mr. Barker, his blue eyes twinkling merrily.
"Oh yes." Megan nodded.
Mr. Barker held up his hand. "Don't tell me!" he warned. "Just close your eyes and think very hard about the pony you want."
"Go on, Megan," her mom encouraged her.
Megan squeezed her eyes tight shut and pictured Sparkle's shiny white coat and gorgeous pink headdress.
"Are you thinking hard?" asked Mr. Barker.
"Very hard," Megan replied.
"Then open your eyes and take a ticket. You don't need to pay...my Magic Carousel is free to everyone!"
To Megan's astonishment, an old-fashioned ticket machine had appeared in front of her on a little red stand. She was sure it hadn't been there before. She glanced at her mom to see if she'd noticed it, but she was busy rummaging in her bag. Megan turned back to Mr. Barker, who smiled and turned a wooden handle on the side of the machine. A little pink ticket popped out.
"Is that for me?" Megan exclaimed.
"It most certainly is," said Mr. Barker. "Go on, see which pony the Magic Carousel has chosen for you!"
Megan took the ticket and looked down at the swirly silver writing. Then she gave a little cry of joy. The ticket said Sparkle.
She was going to ride the circus pony!
Megan climbed eagerly onto Sparkle's
back. She felt very daring, riding bareback, but she was sure she wouldn't fall off, because she could hold on to the twisty golden pole. She waved to her mom with one hand as the carousel began to turn.
The carousel ponies rose and fell in time to the tinkling music. It felt wonderful, like flying gently through the air. Megan held on more tightly as the carousel spun faster. She caught one more glimpse of her mom's smiling face, then all she could see were the dazzling colors of the carousel. Was she imagining it, or had they got brighter? She could even see twinkling stars in her pony's headdress!
The fairground vanished in a blur of pink and silver glitter. This was the most amazing ride Megan had ever been on! She tried to grip the pole tighter, then stared in surprise. She wasn't holding the pole. She was holding Sparkle's mane, and there was silky hair between her fingers, as if it was a real mane. She let go with one hand and stroked Sparkle's neck. It felt soft and warm. And then she heard something new...just like the rhythm of horses' hooves. . . .
Megan gasped. What had happened to the carousel pony? The pink and silver sparkles began to fade away, and Megan thought she could see another white pony just like Sparkle in front of her. Before she could be sure, she felt herself wobble. She grabbed on to the mane and looked down.Magic Pony Carousel #1: Sparkle the Circus Pony EPB. Copyright © by Poppy Shire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.