Series: Young Reading Series 3 Fairy Ponies
By Zanna Davidson
Holly sat in the back of the car, dreamily watching the clouds scudding across the deep blue sky. It was the start of the summer holidays, but instead of meeting up with her friends, she had been driving for hours with her parents to her Great-Aunt May’s house.
“Why does she want me to stay?” Holly wondered aloud. “I’ve only met her a few times.”
“She wants to get to know you better,” Holly’s dad replied.
“You’ll love it, Holly,” her mum went on. “All that beautiful countryside and fresh air.”
But all Holly could think about was how much she hated being away from the riding stables back home. Normally she’d spend her holidays helping to muck out and getting lessons in return. What was she going to do while she was with her great-aunt?
“Nearly there,” said her dad, swinging the car down a narrow lane.
They passed an enormous white mansion that seemed to stretch on for ever. It had a lush green lawn out front, dotted with carefully clipped hedges.
Looking ahead, Holly saw that at the end of the garden there was a paddock – with two beautiful chestnut ponies. She gasped with excitement.
“I’m afraid that’s not your Great-Aunt May’s house,” laughed her dad. “This is it,” he added, as he pulled up outside a tumbledown cottage.
It had a little overgrown garden, thick with weeds and wild flowers, and at the end of the garden was a huge oak tree, its branches waving in the wind.
As the car crunched over the gravel, Great-Aunt May came out of the house to meet them. She looked much younger than Holly remembered, with copper-red hair tied up in a brightly coloured scarf, and a long flowing skirt that brushed the ground as she walked.
“Hello, Holly,” she said. Her voice was quiet, almost like a whisper, as if she were about to tell you a secret. “I’ve been so excited about your visit,” she went on. “I’ve put you in the attic bedroom. I hope you like it. It was my room as a child.”
She showed Holly’s parents through to the sitting room, then led Holly up a flight of rickety stairs to the attic. Great-Aunt May had to duck her head as she entered, to avoid the low wooden beams. Thick rugs lay scattered on the floor and there was a patchwork quilt on the bed, covered in faded flowers. The room felt untouched, as if nothing had changed here for years.
“It’s lovely, Great-Aunt May,” she said.
“Just call me Aunt May. Great-Aunt is far too much of a mouthful. But I’m glad you like it. I suppose it’s a very old-fashioned room now.”
There was a faint tapping noise at the window and Holly had the strange feeling she was being watched.
“What was that?” she asked, going over to the window to look.
“Probably just the branches of the oak tree,” said her aunt. “When the wind blows, the tips can touch the house.”
Still, Holly couldn’t shake off the feeling that something had been out there. But all she could see were the fluttering oak leaves and, down in the paddock below, the two beautiful chestnut ponies. “Oh!” said Holly.
“You can see the ponies from here! Who do they belong to?”
“The girls next door – Cressida and Poppy Jones,” said her aunt. “Cressida is about the same age as you, I think. Do you like horses?”
“I love them,” said Holly, her eyes shining.
Her aunt laughed. “I’ve always loved them too.”
“Do you think Cressida will let me ride them?”
“I hope so,” said her aunt, sounding doubtful. “You can ask tomorrow. But even if she doesn’t, you mustn’t be too disappointed.” Aunt May paused and looked at Holly, a glint in her green eyes. “There could be other treats in store for you.”
Holly wanted to ask her aunt what she meant; she sounded so mysterious. But she had already turned away, and somehow the moment for asking had gone.
There’s something secret about this place, thought Holly. I can feel it.
Holly is staying with her great-aunt when she discovers a tiny pony with shimmering wings. At first she thinks she must be dreaming, until two fairy ponies visit her with an urgent mission. Puck, a young fairy pony, is in danger! The Fairy Ponies series is an exciting addition to Usborne Young Reading, introducing children to wonderful, original, illustrated fiction. Developed in consultation with reading experts.
Zanna Davidson has written over fifty books for children, both non-fiction and fiction. Her stories for children include the Fairy Ponies, Fairy Unicorns and Billy and the Mini Monsters series for Usborne. She lives in the countryside in a cottage on the edge of some deep, dark woods with two small boys and her scruffy black dog, Fred.