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A Puzzle for Princess Ellie

Chapter One

“Let’s explore,” said Princess Ellie, as she stopped Rainbow at the entrance to the wood. The path through it was like a long, dark tunnel. On one side was a high brick wall. On the other were trees growing so close together that their branches arched overhead and shut out the sun.

“Are you sure?” said her best friend, Kate. The palomino she was riding fidgeted from foot to foot, her golden coat gleaming in the sunshine. Moonbeam was the most nervous of Ellie’s four ponies.

“Yes,” said Ellie, firmly. She wasn’t ready to go back to the palace yet. When she was there, she had to be Aurelia, not Ellie. She had to follow rules and behave like a proper princess. Out here she was free to do as she liked.

Ellie squeezed with her legs and Rainbow stepped forward obediently with her ears pricked. Kate followed close behind on Moonbeam.

“It’s spooky in here,” said Kate nervously, as they rode into the shade of the trees.

“Don’t be silly,” laughed Ellie. “Surely you don’t believe in ghosts.” Riding Rainbow gave her confidence. The grey pony was so brave and reliable.

It was very quiet in the wood. There were no birds singing, and the path was covered with a thick, springy layer of rotting leaves that deadened the sound of the ponies’ hooves.

As they rode deeper and deeper into the wood, Ellie looked round at the moss-covered wall and the damp tree trunks. “Kate’s right,” she thought. “It is a bit spooky in here.” She pushed the grey pony into a trot, eager to reach the sunshine on the other side as quickly as possible.

Rainbow seemed uneasy too. She tucked in her head and blew down her nose nervously. 

Suddenly, Rainbow stopped. Ellie was taken completely by surprise and shot forward out of the saddle. Rainbow didn’t give Ellie time to recover her balance. Instead, the grey pony whirled around on the spot, trying to head back the way they had come.

Ellie swung sideways. She felt herself falling and tried to grab hold of the saddle. But she had already gone too far. With a sickening thud, she landed flat on her back on the ground, clutching the reins tightly in one hand.

“Are you all right?” asked Kate, anxiously.

Ellie wasn’t sure. She lay motionless for a moment, shocked by the force of her landing. Then, she warily moved her arms and legs a little. To her relief, there was no pain. Nothing was broken. Only her pride was damaged. “I think so,” Ellie finally replied, as she climbed slowly to her feet. She brushed the dirt from her pale pink jodhpurs and straightened the pink and gold silk cover on her hard hat.

 Kate looked relieved. “I think Rainbow would be back at the stables by now if you hadn’t kept hold of the reins.”

“Steady, girl,” soothed Ellie, as she walked up to the tense, uneasy pony and stroked her neck. “There’s nothing to be scared of.”

Rainbow relaxed at the sound of her voice and rubbed her head gently on Ellie’s shoulder.

“Shall we go back?” said Kate. “We don’t want another accident.”

“No,” said Ellie. “I think she’s all right now, and all my books say you should never let a pony win.” She put her foot in the stirrup and mounted quickly. As soon as Rainbow felt her weight in the saddle, she started edging back the way they had come.

“It’s not time to go home yet,” said Ellie, firmly. She turned the pony to face the spot where she had fallen off. This time she was ready for trouble.

Rainbow walked forward reluctantly, glancing from side to side and snorting through her nose. Then, at exactly the same place as before, she suddenly stopped again.

This time Ellie didn’t lose her balance. But she was still shaken. What on earth was wrong with Rainbow? She had never acted like this before. “Go on, girl,” Ellie called encouragingly, as she pushed the pony on with her legs. Her voice sounded extra loud  in the stillness of the wood.

Rainbow didn’t go on. Instead, she whirled around to the left. Ellie wasn’t quick enough to stop her so she made Rainbow keep turning until she was back where she had started. Then she tried to make her walk on again.

But Rainbow took a step backwards and then whirled suddenly to the right. Ellie’s heart was pounding as she struggled to stay in the saddle.

“I’ll try going in front,” said Kate. “Maybe Rainbow will follow us.” But Moonbeam refused to go past the grey mare. She just stood still and wouldn’t move.

“What’s wrong with them?” said Ellie. “There’s nothing there.”

“Nothing we can see anyway,” said Kate.

Ellie felt a thrill of excitement mixed with fear. “I just remembered something,” she said. “Some people believe horses can see ghosts.”

Kate looked around nervously. “I told you it was spooky.”

Ellie peered along the shadowy path ahead. Was there really something there – something only Rainbow could see?

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Princess Ellie much prefers pony riding to entertaining dull royal visitors. When Ellie is riding through the woods, her brave pony suddenly whirls around and refuses to move. Has Rainbow seen a ghost? Ellie is determined to solve the puzzle. Celebrate ten years of the Pony-Mad Princess series with these new editions of the much-loved stories.

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Book information

Key Stage
Book Band
Accelerated Reader level
4.5 MY
ISBN: 9781409565987
Extent: 96 pages
Dimensions: 198 x 130mm
Lizzie Finlay

Author information

Diana Kimpton

Diana Kimpton has two passions - horses and writing. So it is no wonder that Diana creates brilliant pony stories, which demonstrate her own love and understanding of ponies. Diana also has a mischievous sense of fun, not unlike Princess Ellie! Diana has written a number of books and television scripts for children. She lives on the Isle of Wight, just a short walk from the sea.

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Press reviews

“A sparkling new series of books from Diana Kimpton all about ponies, adventure and being a princess - they're full of authentic details about riding and looking after horses, as well as Princess Ellie's palace life (which isn't always as fun as it might seem)! ”
“A heady cocktail of princesses, horses and mystery is enough to make any girl giddy. The text trots along with humour and enough horsey fact to hold the attention, while the lovely drawings help fit faces to story. ”

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