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I, Me, Mine

Book Review
Mini Whinny: Happy Birthday to Me Written by Stacy Gregg and illustrated by Ruth Paul (Scholastic, $17.99)
Reviewed by Melinda Szymanik

mini-whinnyIt’s all about Mini Whinny! This charming picture book is about a rather self-absorbed little pony who makes a very important discovery about the benefits of a joy shared.

All the horses are excited by the birthday party preparations going on their stables, except for young Mini. If you are a horse born in this part of the world, your birthdate is automatically designated August 1st. All the pretty decorations, the fun party games and the delicious birthday cake, which look oh, so wonderful, must be shared with every other horse and pony.  However, the idea of sharing her birthday with all the other horses does not sit at all well with Mini.  Just this once she wants to have this special day to herself. She devises a clever plan to achieve her goals, but in the process discovers one very important thing. But all is not lost…

Appealing, soft illustrations in youthful birthday party tones, perfectly express Mini’s emotional journey. Her annoyance and frustration, her stubbornness, her scheming and subsequent disappointment when her plans don’t turn out as she expects. I especially loved how Mini Whinny is playing with her own ‘my little ponies’ on the front end-papers. Despite her naughtiness, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her irrepressible spirit, and parents and children alike will recognise how seductive and overwhelming the whole idea of a birthday party can be for a youngster.

Together, the text and illustrations neatly capture the little pony’s petulance – ‘Mine’, ‘Mine’, ‘Mine,’ she starts every sentence, as she goes about putting her plan into action – and her dawning realisation that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. I enjoyed the sly and not so sly nods to the language of the horse world – for example  the name ‘Palomina’ for one of the key adult horse characters, and the phrase, ‘as the horses hit the hay’ when they (nearly) all turn in for the night. This is a great first book for the emerging horse lover in your family, and the perfect story for all those children still getting to grips with how birthday parties work, even when it’s their own.