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Fairy Ponies Rainbow Races

Chapter One

 It was a beautiful, moonlit night. Holly crept out of her great-aunt’s cottage and down the garden path, her eyes fixed on the oak tree towering ahead of her. When she’d first arrived at Great-Aunt May’s house for the summer holidays, Holly had never imagined it would be so full of adventure. But she had discovered another world inside the magical oak tree – Pony Island, full of beautiful fairy ponies. Last time she’d visited, her friend Puck had promised to show her more of the island. Holly couldn’t wait…

She sprinkled herself with magic dust, her stomach fluttering with excitement. Then, as the night sky filled with rainbow sparkles, she felt a tingling, shrinking feeling. Holly closed her eyes as the air whooshed around her, and when she opened them again, she was fairy-sized. Now she was small enough to enter the oak tree’s secret tunnel. She whispered the words of the spell:

 “Let me pass into the magic tree,

Where fairy ponies fly wild and free.

Show me the trail of sparkling light,

To Pony Island, shining bright.”

Holly ran down the tunnel, filled with delight at the thought of seeing Pony Island again. Reaching for the tiny silver bell around her neck, she rang it until its musical chimes floated ahead of her down the tunnel, letting Puck know she was on her way.

Holly rounded the corner and burst out
of the oak tree into a sun-kissed meadow. Puck was already waiting for her, standing knee-deep among the wild flowers with a butterfly resting on his mane. His glossy russet coat gleamed in the sunshine, and his brown eyes twinkled with mischief.

“Come on, Holly!” he said with a grin, fluttering his shimmering wings. “I’ve got something brilliant to show you.”

He crouched down and Holly swung herself onto his back, her fingers tangling in his silky soft mane.

“Where are we going?” she asked, as Puck began beating his wings.

“To Rainbow Shore,” Puck replied. “You’ll be amazed when you see what’s happening there…”

They soared into the azure sky, flying up and up, the warm summer breeze washing over Holly’s skin. She breathed in the delicious scent of wild flowers and gazed down at Pony Island, sparkling in the sunlight far away below her.

“Scared?” asked Puck.

“Not any more,” Holly replied. This was her third visit to Pony Island, and flying on a fairy pony felt as natural as riding now.

“Look, there’s Butterfly Valley,” Puck pointed out, as they swooped out of a small wooded glade.

Holly watched in wonder as the valley came alive with butterflies, flitting from flower to flower. Together their shimmering wings made a dazzling patchwork of shining purples, golden yellows and sparkling blues. As she gazed down, Holly thought how lucky she was to be the only human allowed into the secret world of Pony Island.

They passed over little thatched houses and silver streams, until, at last, Rainbow Shore came into view. Holly glimpsed a white beach rolling down to a clear blue sea, where foamy waves frothed and curled along the sand. Then she gasped as she saw a dazzling rainbow, stretching in a glorious arc from far out at sea, across the beach to the foot of a mountain.

“Wow!” cried Holly. “So that’s how Rainbow Shore gets its name.”

“The rainbow is magical,” Puck explained. “It’s everlasting. And the mountain it touches is called Rainbow Mountain. Behind it are the rest of the High Mountains. I’d love to go there one day.”

Holly stared up at Rainbow Mountain, which reached high above the clouds, as Puck began diving down to the ground. Crowds of fairy ponies were already gathered, with birds hovering above them in the sky, holding a banner, which said Rainbow Races in swirling, glittering writing.

Music floated up from the crowd, a jaunty tune played by the Fairy Pony Band with seashell horns and shining silver bells.

“What’s happening, Puck?” asked Holly. “What are the Rainbow Races?”

Puck simply smiled and nodded to a row of rainbow masts, decorated with ribbons, that were dotted along the shore.

“That’s the race course,” he explained. “All the racing ponies have to follow the course and there are obstacles along the way. We have to weave in and out of those masts, loop-the-loop above the sand dunes, fly three times around the conch shell and then gallop through the giant sandcastle palace. The winner is the first pony to fly through the rainbow.” Puck’s eyes were shining with excitement. “The Rainbow Races is the biggest event on the island,” he went on. “Fairy ponies travel from far and wide to watch or take part. And this is the first year I’ll be old enough to be in one of the races. I’m going to be in the Juniors. I can’t wait!” He paused for a moment and looked at her, almost shyly. “Would you like to ride on my back?” he asked.

“Won’t I slow you down?” asked Holly. “You’ll be the only pony with a rider.”

Puck shook his head. “You’re as light as a feather,” he said. “We can easily win,” he added with a grin.

“Then I’d love to!” Holly replied, as excited as Puck at the thought of taking part.

Before she could say more, a fanfare struck up and Holly saw the Fairy Pony Band blowing on their seashell horns. The crowd started cheering, beating their hoofs on the ground in a thunderous round of applause as the Pony Queen flew down through the rainbow, surrounded by a cloak of sparkling stardust, butterflies trailing in
her wake.

Her butterfly wings shimmered in the sunlight and her creamy
white coat was bathed in sunshine.

She came to rest on a raised platform, decked out with garlands of flowers.
The Pony Queen smiled down at the crowds and began to speak.

“Welcome to the Rainbow Races, everyone,” she said in her musical voice. “Thank you all for coming…”

But suddenly, the sound of hoofs echoed through the crowd, and Puck and Holly turned their heads to see what was happening. The Pony Queen stiffened, her expression frozen in anger: something was terribly wrong.


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Hardback with ribbon marker

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Holly can't wait to watch her friend Puck, the fairy pony, compete in the Rainbow Races. But when an enchanted storm is unleashed over Pony Island, ruining the races, the home of the fairy ponies is threatened with darkness for ever... 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.

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Book information

Key Stage
Lexile Measure
Book Band
CEFR Level
Accelerated Reader level
5.2 LY
Hardback with ribbon marker
ISBN: 9781409506300
Extent: 96 pages
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm
Barbara Bongini

Author information

Zanna Davidson

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.

Resources for this book

  • Usborne Reading Programme
    Find out more about the Usborne Reading Programme, download a chart of the seven levels and watch an interview with reading consultant Alison Kelly.