Read an Excerpt
Magic Pony Carousel #4: Jewel the Midnight Pony
"Got it!" Sophie waved her long bamboo pole. It had a yellow plastic duck swinging madly on the hook at the end.
"Well done!" said her mom.
Sophie's dad unhooked the duck and handed it to the woman standing on the other side of the inflatable pool. Lots of bright yellow ducks bobbed on the water, waiting to be hooked. The woman smiled at Sophie and told her to choose a prize.
Sophie picked a key ring in the shape of a pretty jet-black pony with a tiny white dot on its forehead. She loved ponies more than anything else in the world! "Thank you!" she said to the woman in charge.
Beside her, there was a crash as Sophie's little sister Molly threw down her bamboo pole. "This is a stupid game!" Molly grumbled. "I can't hook any of the ducks. They keep swimming away!"
Sophie sighed. Molly was only four, and she got very annoyed when she couldn't do everything Sophie did.
"Let's go and find something else," said their dad. He took Sophie and Molly by the hands and they wandered farther into the fair. It was very busy, and Sophie held tightly to her dad's hand. She put her other hand in her pocket to check if her pony key ring was still there. The little jet-black pony felt warm and smooth underneath her fingers.
There were rides and games everywhere! Sophie thought she'd never be able to decide what to go on next. Her mom pointed to a stall where you had to kick a soccer ball into a goal to win prizes. But Sophie didn't think she could win a better prize than her pony key ring, so she shook her head.
Just then, shespotted a pointy golden roof peeping out from behind the soccer ball game. Tugging her dad's hand, she led him over.
"Look!" Sophie cried. "It's a pony carousel!" It was the prettiest fairground ride she had ever seen. The wooden ponies were really lifelike, their eyes twinkling and their tails floating out behind them.
"Would you like to have a turn?" asked Sophie's mom.
"Yes, please!" Sophie said. There was nothing she wanted more than to ride on the carousel, holding one of the twisty golden poles.
But Molly had spotted something else. "I want to go on the giant teacups!" she said, pointing.
Sophie stared at her sister in surprise. How could giant spinning teacups be better than the beautiful pony carousel? Molly started to drag their dad toward the teacups. Now Sophie wouldn't be able to go on the carousel!
Her mom bent down and gave her shoulders a squeeze. "Shall we stay here while your dad takes Molly on the teacups?" she said. Sophie nodded eagerly.
She walked to the bottom of the steps leading up to the carousel. There were so many ponies! There was a stocky white pony, with a stiff mane and bells and ribbons on his harness—the kind of pony Sophie had seen pulling sleighs in pictures. Then she spotted a handsome bay pony with brave brown eyes and a tail that flowed all the way down to the floor. He had an old-fashioned saddle as though he was a medieval knight's pony.
Then Sophie gasped out loud. One of the ponies looked exactly like her key ring! He was jet-black—the color of a dark, velvety night—and he had a perfect diamond of white on his forehead. When Sophie peered closer, she saw a little name scroll hanging from the golden pole on his back. It read Jewel! It was the perfect name for such a beautiful pony.
Someone coughed politely close by, making Sophie jump. A tall gentleman was standing behind her. He was grandly dressed in a red velvet suit and a red-and-green-striped top hat. He bowed to Sophie, sweeping the hat from his head.
"Welcome to Barker's Magic Pony Carousel!" he declared. His blue eyes twinkled. "My name is Mr. Barker."
Sophie stared at him. "Did you just say Magic Pony Carousel?" she said.
Mr. Barker grinned. "Oh yes! Most definitely magic. Would you like a ride on the carousel?"
"I'd love one!" Sophie gasped.
"Well, I have just a few tickets left for the next ride," he said. He reached into his pocket and took out some tiny pieces of pink paper. "The name of your pony is written on the ticket you choose, Sophie. Think hard about which pony you'd like it to be!" Mr. Barker held out the tickets to Sophie, along with a magnifying glass. "Pick one! And have a look at it with the magnifying glass. The writing can be a little hard to read sometimes," he explained.
Sophie thought hard about the midnight-black pony that looked like her key ring. Then, with trembling fingers she chose one of the little pink tickets. She lifted the magnifying glass and peered at the tiny piece of paper. The swirly writing was hard to read—but it definitely said Jewel.
"It's Jewel!" she told him excitedly.
"Ah! That's a very special pony." Mr. Barker beamed. "Now, quickly, on you get. We're ready to start. Climb aboard, everyone! All aboard the Magic Pony Carousel!"
Sophie ran up the steps and wove her way through the other wooden ponies until she reached Jewel. "I'm so glad your name was on my ticket!" she whispered, stroking the white diamond on his forehead. The painted wood felt silky under her fingers. Jewel's dark eyes seemed to look straight into hers, as though he was glad, too. Sophie gave him a quick kiss on the nose, then climbed into the saddle.
Mr. Barker checked that everyone was on his or her pony before he twirled a big golden handle to start the carousel. There was a grating noise, then music rang out, and Sophie felt Jewel soar into the air as the carousel moved off. She gripped the golden pole tightly and waved to her mom as she whirled past her. The fairground slipped by in a blur of silvery-lilac light, the tinkling music filled Sophie's ears, and the crowds seemed to fade away.Magic Pony Carousel #4: Jewel the Midnight Pony. Copyright � by Poppy Shire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.