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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
I have always been fascinated by bouncing ponies and carousel horses. What child hasn’t been? Like others, I never imagined the sad fate of those fun, imaginative creatures once they’ve been outgrown. Are they left neglected in an attic? Or dumped in the nearest dumpster? What if you found a discarded bouncing pony in a dumpster, its head peeking above the trash? Would it bring back fond memories of your own childhood adventures and make you want to dig it out of the trash and bring it back to life? That’s what happened to Buster. He was a dumpster pony, discarded and left hidden from the world. That is, until one day…
Leslie Cronkhite Armstrong’s picture book story, Buster the Dumpster Pony, sparks the compassion and imagination of young and old alike. The plot follows Buster’s joy at being one child’s bouncing pony through his sad demise in the dumpster and his rediscovery and rebirth at the hands of a young girl, Mima, whose imagination goes beyond the childhood pleasures of riding a bouncing pony. The charming illustrations add momentum to the story, which is based on the author’s story of the dumpster pony she rescued, restored and now shows with pride in the winner’s circle at Emerald Downs Racetrack. Here’s a grand adventure based on imagination and the willpower and know-how to see a dream come true. The story ends with photographs of Buster’s rebirth accompanied by a profound note from the author: “Perhaps there is a dumpster in all of our lives, a place where dreams are discarded. Buried too deep to find and long forgotten. It may require a little digging, some reconstruction, repair, and a “fresh coat of paint” in order to bring the magic back.” We all need a little inspiration to bring back the magic in our lives.