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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Mini Whinny: Bad Day at the O.K. Corral by Stacy Gregg, illustrated by Ruth Paul

It's Mini Whinny's first day at pony day care and she's feeling a bit left out. When the block tower the other ponies have been building suddenly collapses, she feels everyone blames her.

But no, it's Bandit, the 'naughty' pony with his posse of troublemakers. Mini Whinny decides it's time to make a stand and show him who is boss.

This is the third title in the popular Mini Whinny series by well-known author Stacy Gregg.

While it's another boisterous story of horsey friendship, this one failed to live up to the delight of its predecessors for us.

The inference of a Western showdown flew straight over my little reader's heads, so it skewed the book quite a bit.

While they could relate to Mini Whinny and some of the issues raised - the first day of early childhood education and feeling shy for one - the action confused them.

Mini Whinny put Bandit in his place by being physically violent towards him, something most parents would agree isn't the type of lesson we want our little ones to learn.

While I could see that Gregg was trying to hint at friendship, respect, and being kind to people, my children saw both Bandit and Mini Whinny as the villains. Given that the book is for young ones, that isn't ideal. Younger children have the tendency to take things very literally, and when dealing with issues like bullying, they need clear guidance about appropriate strategies.

However, my kids did find it funny - there's toilet humour and I've yet to find a child that won't laugh at that.

We were also able to use the book as a cautionary tale, brainstorming other strategies Mini Whinny could have used to help Bandit.

Illustrator Ruth Paul does a stirling job as usual. There's plenty of detail and Paul makes the pony day care relatable to children - there's dress up boxes and painting easels galore. She also makes each character distinct, with their own personalities and traits shining through on the page. She also includes lovely double-page spreads, bookmarking the story and showing the passage of time at the start and beginning.

Overall, Mini Whinny: Bad Day At The O.K Corral is a story for little readers that needs adult guidance alongside it. It's not a soothing bedtime story you can pick up and just read, but rather one that requires some guidance from older people. It would be a nice addition to an early childhood centre where kaiako could help guide little readers through.

Reviewed by: Rebekah Lyell

Scholastic, RRP $18.99


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