Silas Bird can remember the trauma of his birth, the day his mother died. Since then, he has lived a sheltered life with his pa, Martin, a photographer who was inspired to study the photographic sciences after Silas, 10 years old at the time, was standing by a tree and was struck by lightning—ever after, an image of the tree remained emblazoned on his back.
As far back as Silas can remember, his friend Mittenwool has been at his side. Silas is no ordinary boy. He has a gift—or is it a curse, he sometimes wonders—an awareness of the ghosts of people who linger after they die. In fact, his friend Mittenwool is a ghost. When he was 6 years old, Silas was bullied at school because he was overheard talking to Mittenwool. So from then on Pa taught Silas at home and told him not to mention his relationship to the ghost: “Your friendship with Mittenwool is wondrous, and something to be treasured. But there are people who won’t understand it because they can’t see that kind of wonder.”
Now all seems well for 12-year-old Silas and Pa until one day just before dawn Mittenwool rouses Silas from sleep to warn him that three men on horseback, along with a bald-faced pony, are approaching the house. The men have come for Pa and Silas, and they claim that Pa is Mac Boat. Though Pa denies it, Silas sees a look come over his face that he has never seen before. Pa refuses to allow the men to take Silas, and the boy is left alone with his dog Argos and Mittenwool.
Though Pa’s command is clear—Silas must not follow the men!—the boy sets out on a journey when the bald-faced pony unexpectedly returns to the house. Silas is sure now that Pa needs him. What follows is an odyssey more harrowing and wondrous than Silas’s wildest dreams as his deep fears, profound longings, and myriad questions find their comfort, realization, and answers in the help, wisdom, and courage of the most unlikely characters, including the bald-faced pony, so humbly named Pony, yet so surprisingly mighty in Silas’s hour of trial.
In an author’s note, R. J. Palacio, well-known for her previous novels, Wonder and Auggie & Me, writes, “Ultimately, this is a book about love, which never dies, and the invisible connections that exist between people, both the living and the dead.” Though recommended for ages 10 and older, the book is better suited to ages 12 and older as it includes several graphic war-related scenes. Christian children (and adults) who read Pony can do so in the sure knowledge that in life and in death they belong to Jesus Christ. (Knopf Books for Young Readers)