Five Mile Charlie: A Special Pony for Carly
by Kimberly Adams
Mascot Books

"As Charlie settled into his new life on Five Mile Farm, he became known for taking care of the other animals in the meadow."

On an idyllic country farm lives an adorable little girl named Carly. Her life in this delightful world of animal companions and days spent playing in the sunshine with baby animals are close to perfect. According to her, the only thing missing is a pony. Word gets around to all the creatures in the surrounding area that Carly is pining for a pony. The Queen Bee, Nora, decides to grant the girl's wish. Her best scout bee, Journey, finds a "pony" that is a bit unusual. Once Carly discovers the new creature in her pasture, she falls in love with him instantly. She does not care that Charlie is a llama and not a pony. The two become fast friends and begin the first of many adventures together. The animals also enjoy Charlie's company, and he feels protective of them.

Adams has drawn from personal experience to create this whimsical and endearing story. She has spent years as an attorney and judge in Oklahoma. Her animals have always held a special place in her heart, and this is especially true for Charlie, the llama. She was inspired to write her story about them after losing Charlie during the COVID-19 lockdown. A photograph of the author with the real-life Charlie is included in the back of the book.

In an interview, Adams explained when she first learned that language had power: "The children, including myself, had access to a bookmobile that traveled to the rural communities in the 1970s. The bookmobile allowed the opportunity for children to read during the summer. From this experience, I found that I could travel anywhere and experience many adventures through the pages in a book."

The author's writing style is clear and easy, with simple sentences that are accessible to young readers. Colorful characters with diverse personalities create a community for Carly. Adams balances fun and exciting adventures with some real-life topics, making it an effective vehicle for simple messages about compassion, friendship, and inclusion. The activities flow easily from scene to scene. Friendly dialogue between the characters builds rapport with the readers.

The pictures by David Gnass—an accomplished illustrator out of Toronto—are also well done. His vibrant, unique portrayal of Charlie and the other characters draws young readers into the story. His expertise is evident in the expressiveness of the characters. He creates lively, welcoming pictures of the farm and countryside. The warm, friendly illustrations on each page will likely entice new readers to return to the book again and again.

Overall, this book is a fun, delightful read for young readers. It would be a wonderful addition to a classroom or home collection. Adams and Gnass are a dynamic team that has an artistic chemistry. They create enchanting settings and entertaining narratives for children. While the book is grounded, it also holds up the magic of childhood. Adams notes at the end of the book that many more adventures are to come. There is no doubt that she will have many readers eagerly awaiting to discover more about Charlie and Carly.

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