Series: Young Reading Series 3 Fairy Ponies
By Zanna Davidson
“Goodnight, Holly,” said Great-Aunt May, peering round the doorway of her attic bedroom. “Sweet dreams.”
“Goodnight,” Holly replied, smiling into the darkness. She listened to her aunt padding downstairs, then slipped out of bed and tiptoed as quietly as she could to her window. Please let the moon be out, thought Holly. She drew back the curtains, and as she did so, saw the moon shining out from behind a passing cloud. A moment later, a shaft of moonlight streamed down into her great-aunt’s garden, lighting up a path to the old oak tree.
Holly turned and silently slipped down the stairs, through the cottage door and out into the garden. It was time to visit Pony Island again.
Holly was having her best summer holidays ever. At the bottom of her great-aunt’s garden was a magical world full of fairy ponies, hidden inside an old oak tree.
And ever since she’d rescued Puck, the fairy pony, Holly was the only human allowed to visit their secret island!
She glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then she reached into her pocket and pulled out a tiny bag of magic dust that the Pony Queen had given her. A few sprinkles later and she was fairy-sized – small enough to enter the hidden tunnel in the tree. But first she had to whisper 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.”
As soon as the last words of the spell left her lips, Holly saw a shining pathway ahead of her. She rang the tiny bell she always wore around her neck, then ran forward, her fairy-light feet barely making a sound on the smooth oak floor. Her heart fluttered with excitement. At the end of the tunnel, Puck, her best friend on Pony Island, would be waiting for her – he always came as soon as he heard the bell.
She turned a corner and saw a glimpse of Pony Island. With a new burst of speed, she raced down the last stretch of the tunnel and emerged into a sunlit meadow. A fresh summer breeze wafted over the long grasses, which brushed and tickled against her legs. For a moment Holly could only gaze at the view – a flower-filled valley running down to a sparkling river, and beyond that, a line of gently sloping hills, lush and green beneath a clear blue sky. Bees buzzed around her and butterflies flitted from flower to flower, but there was no sign of Puck anywhere. Why hasn’t he come? thought Holly, filled with disappointment.
“Hello!” came a voice from above, followed by a mischievous chuckle as Holly jumped.
Holly looked up to see Puck hovering in the air, fluttering his butterfly wings, his glossy roan coat gleaming in the sunlight. “You should always remember to look up in Pony Island,” he said with a grin, before swooping down to land beside her.
“And,” he went on, full of excitement, “I’ve got another surprise for you.” He bent down and lifted the flap of the basket he was carrying around his neck. Holly peered inside.
“Wow!” she said, glancing up to see Puck’s eyes twinkling with merriment. “That’s the most delicious picnic I’ve ever seen.”
“I know!” said Puck proudly.
Holly laughed as she swung herself onto Puck’s back. “Then what are we waiting for?” she said. “Let’s fly!”
Puck fluttered his wings and the next moment they were rising up and up, over the waving grasses and nodding flowers, until they were flying high above the treetops. Holly wrapped her arms around Puck’s neck and closed her eyes for a moment, letting the breeze wash over her, loving the feel of the wind in her hair.
“So what have we got in our picnic?” she asked dreamily.
“Berry cakes and rainbow drops and orange blossom icicle pops,” said Puck. “We’ve even got some honeydew juice.”
“Is that from Bluebell?” asked Holly, smiling at the thought of Puck’s mother.
Puck nodded. “She put it in as a special treat for you.”
As Puck chatted about the picnic, Holly gazed down at Pony Island. Puck swept out from a woody glade to soar above the Magic Pony Pools, a sparkling lake where all the fairy ponies went to wash and play. Soon, they were following the bend of the Singing River, and Holly cupped her ear to hear its music; beautiful, lilting notes that rose from the water like birdsong.
“Here’s our picnic spot,” Puck said at last, twirling down to the ground by the banks of the river. “I found it with my friend, Dandelion.”
“It’s perfect,” said Holly, taking in the bulrushes and irises crowding the riverbank, and the thick, springy grass that carpeted the ground like velvet.
They laid out the picnic together, but Holly couldn’t stop gazing at the view. She loved visiting new places on Pony Island, knowing there was always a magical surprise around the corner. “What’s that wood over there?” she asked, pointing to the other side of the meadow.
“That’s the Enchanted Wood,” Puck explained. “It’s where the unicorns live.”
“Unicorns!” Holly gasped in excitement. “I didn’t know there were unicorns.”
“They’re the most magical ponies on the island,” said Puck, “but they hardly ever come out, they’re so shy. We learned all about them in Pony Magic School. They feed on magical golden apples that enhance their powers and give them amazing speed. They’re even ruled by their own Unicorn Prince.”
“I’d love to see a unicorn,” said Holly, wistfully. “Are we allowed into the Enchanted Wood? Have you ever seen one?” she asked eagerly.
“Never,” Puck replied. “You have to get special permission to go into the wood. I’ve never had any reason to go there, but maybe it would be different if I took you. It would be amazing!”
As they tucked into their picnic, Holly forgot about the unicorns, enjoying the delicious food Bluebell had made for them. She popped rainbow drops into her mouth, where they fizzled and tickled her tongue, and sipped on honeydew juice, which glinted like liquid gold in the sun.
Then suddenly, from the other side of the meadow, came a desperate shout.
“Please!” called the voice. “What are you doing? Stop!”
“What’s that?” cried Holly, the panic-stricken voice making her shiver. “What’s happening?”
Holly and her fairy pony friend Puck uncover a wicked plot to take over Pony Island. To save the day, they must venture into the Enchanted Wood, home of the mysterious unicorns... 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.