Maybe It’s Magic!
Genre Middle Grade Fantasy/Magical Realism
Tags Children’s, middle-grade, fantasy, magic, horses, magic spell, contemporary, friendship, horse ranch, wishes, magical realism
Editor Katie L. Carroll
Line Editor Les Tucker
Cover Designer Karen Phillips
Ten-year-old Pippy wants a horse more than anything in the world. Plan One, begging her mom for one, doesn’t work. Plan Two, performing her own made-up magic spell, conjures up a tiny glass horse statue. Pippy’s disappointed; she wants a real horse. But then she thinks: Maybe it’s magic! If it is, she can use its powers to get a real one.
With the magic of Little Horse, her life changes. She meets Mrs. Sunnyvale, an old and grouchy ranch owner, who buys a horse although she hasn’t owned one for years. She lets Pippy ride it. Pippy begins to think of Mrs. Sunnyvale as the grandmother she never knew.
Then bad things begin to happen. Why? Is Little Horse running out of magic?
When Mrs. Sunnyvale falls ill, Pippy knows the magic is almost gone. If she doesn’t get more magic soon, she could lose her horse. Even worse, Mrs. Sunnyvale could lose her life.
Outside Pippy headed down the street. As she walked, she thought about what kind of horse she would wish for. Should she get an Appaloosa, a white one with black spots all over its back? Or a pinto, with patches of brown and white all over its body? Reaching inside her pocket, she patted Little Horse to make sure it was safe and sound.
At the edge of town, she crossed the street and hurried down the dirt road that led to Sunnyvale Farm.
Sunnyvale Farm wasn’t really a farm at all. It used to be a great horse ranch. A large faded wooden sign hung down from posts over the gate. The sign said Sunnyvale Farm – Home of Grand Champion Sunny Side Up.
But Sunnyvale Farm hadn’t had a horse on it for a long time. Pippy couldn’t understand that. How could people have the perfect place to keep a horse and not have one? It didn’t make any sense.
As she rested her arms on the top rail of the old, wooden fence, tiny flakes of dirty white paint clung to her new shirt. She sighed as she brushed them off. What was once a large, oval riding arena on the other side of the fence was now just a weedy field. Pippy could picture exactly what it must have looked like with lots of riders trotting around it. She breathed in the fresh air and imagined the excitement of the crowd as a riding competition was about to begin. The sound of hooves pounding the hard dirt and the cheers of the spectators rang in her ears. Maybe she could have all this if her wish came true.
Beyond the arena was an old barn. The red paint on the sides had faded to a weak pink color. The white paint on the trim was dirty and peeling off. The rooster weathervane on top of the high-peaked roof was bent over at an awkward angle. Pippy thought it was the most beautiful building in the world.
She wanted to climb the fence into the arena. She longed to walk over and peek inside the barn. However, an old, rusty No Trespassing sign hung on the gate.
She knew what no trespassing meant. It meant that the arena and the barn were on private property. It meant the owners did not want strangers on their land. But today was Pippy’s birthday, and she was wearing new jeans and boots and a cowboy hat. She was a cowgirl, and she belonged on a horse ranch.
Her fingers rubbed the mysterious little glass horse through the fabric of her shirt. Its magic will protect me! This thought gave her courage. Before she could change her mind, she climbed the fence and hopped down on the other side.
She’d done it! She was in the arena. It looked bigger from the inside. The old two-story house behind the barn looked bigger, too. Once or twice she’d seen an old woman with a cane walking outside it. Today no one was in sight. Walking with slow strides, she began making a loop around the large oval.
As she walked, she pretended to lead a beautiful horse in a horse show. She stopped to turn him to the left so the judge could see the magnificent stallion from the front. Next the horse trotted beside her as she jogged alongside the fence. After bringing him to a full stop, she backed him up. Finally, she led him to the center of the arena where the judge would hand out the ribbons. Pippy watched lots of horse shows on television, and she read about horse shows, too. She knew how the judges gave out awards.
Of course, Pippy and her horse won the blue ribbon. After pinning it on the horse’s halter, she led him off toward the barn. The arena gate was open, and Pippy stepped through it onto the driveway. Then she stopped. Did she dare run to the barn?
She reached into her pocket and grasped Little Horse in her hand. Yes! Today she was brave enough to run to the barn.
Before doing so, she glanced once again at the old house. Was it safe? No one was near. Taking a deep breath, she started running just as some curtains fluttered in a window. Or did she just imagine it?
Inside the barn, she forgot all about the moving curtains. With closed eyes, she took a deep breath. The scent of old hay, manure, leather, and horses filled her nostrils. It was faint, but it was the same smell as in the barn at the county fair she went to every year. She continued to inhale the most wonderful smell in the whole world with long, deep breaths.
Opening her eyes, she looked into the first stall on the right. The edges of several posts had been nibbled on. Pippy remembered reading about horses eating wood in her horse magazines. Chewing wood was a bad habit because it could give the horse splinters in its mouth and make its belly feel bad.
Walking into the next stall, she noticed several dents and scars on the walls. “Uh-oh. This one must have kicked a lot,” she whispered.
In one of the stalls, cobweb-covered halters, ropes, and bridles hung on wooden pegs. On the opposite wall, several old saddles sat on wooden braces. Everything was blanketed with a thick layer of dust. Nothing had been used in a long time.
Pippy couldn’t resist touching them. Taking down a halter, she shook off the dust and unhooked the latch. It wasn’t easy because the leather was dry and brittle. She pretended to put it on her horse—a golden palomino with a cream-colored mane and tail.
“Whoa, now, Tornado,” she said. “Stand still.”
Just then, another voice echoed through the barn. “Come out with your hands up!” The loud, hoarse, and angry-sounding voice came from the aisle. “And no monkey business!”