Josiah's Reviews > Chúcaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa

Chúcaro by Francis Kalnay
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's review
Jul 23, 2011

it was ok
Read from July 23 to 24, 2011

Told through use of an authentic third-person narrative voice that reflects the exciting outdoors feel of the Argentine Pampa region, Chúcaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa is a grassroots cultural tale about a boy and the horse he comes to love, a theme that seems to cross all national borders in its literary appeal. From Black Beauty to My Friend Flicka to Smoky, the Cowhorse to King of the Wind and beyond, horse stories have held our attention and found their way onto our bookshelves for generations.

Chúcaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa is a notably progressive juvenile novel for its time in that it never offers simple blanket solutions to the various problems of its plot. The characters and their issues are treated as realistically as possible, and not everything is going to turn out neatly and fairly in the real world. Author Francis Kalnay also understands how to create a story that will influence and affect young readers through a mixture of humor and some light pathos, and it is the way that he puts all of these moving parts together to form his own unique writing style that really makes the experience of reading this book.

One night on the plains of the wild Pampa of Argentina, a young gaucho in training, Pedro, happens across a pink pony hungrily grazing among the alfalfa grass. A pink pony! Pedro has never before seen anything of the kind, and without a second thought he knows that he must have this pony to keep as his own. Pedro's informal guardian, a full-grown gaucho named Juan who has taken to raising Pedro ever since the boy's father has begun to have some personal problems, helps Pedro to corral the pony and begin the process of teaching the majestic wild animal how to live with and be ridden by humans.

Not all will go smoothly, however, when such a prize as the great pink pony is dangled before jealous eyes. Juan and Pedro live and work on a large network of ranches, and the estanciero who owns it all has a son whose covetous gaze has been taken by the unusual pony that belongs to Pedro. If Juan doesn't relinquish the beautiful creature to the estanciero's son, then his job could be in jeopardy. How will he and Pedro figure out a way to keep the pony if the wealthy estanciero is determined to take it away?

Chúcaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa is an interesting story, told with a fresh voice and narrative style that should go over well even all these years after its original publication. There are a few little tidbits of thought mixed in with the story that are worth taking a few extra seconds to ponder, and the way the book comes to its end is quite good. I'm pleased to see Newbery Honor books such as this one live on long after their debut, as new companies see fit to rerelease classic Newbery titles when they go out of print for a time. May this practice continue indefinitely, and may the writing of Francis Kalnay continue to delight young readers for as far into the future as possible.

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07/23/2011 page 16
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