Come to the beach with Noni - the nicest pony you could ever meet - in this purely delightful rhyming story for young children by the much-loved Alison Lester. You may have met Noni already in Noni the Pony.
Alison Lester grew up on a farm by the sea, and first rode a horse as a baby in her father's arms. Her picture books mix imaginary worlds with everyday life, encouraging children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special. Alison is involved in many community art projects and spends part of every year travelling to remote Indigenous communities, using her books to help children and adults write and draw about their own lives.
In 2012, Alison became Australia's first Children's Book Laureate, a position she shared with Boori Monty Pryor. In 2016, she was awarded the Dromkeen Medal for her outstanding achievement in the creation of Australian children's and young adult literature, and in 2018 she became the first children's book writer to win the Melbourne Prize for Literature, for her outstanding contribution to Australian literature and cultural and intellectual life.
Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is yet another fantastic story that allows for great discussions about the different aspects of friendships and their importance. Learning to take care of each other is an important part of growing up and what a great, fun and exciting way to learn about it through literacy and storytelling.
Learning positive friendship skills and having the ability to take care of others and allow others to look after you is a very important skill to have. Through fiction books such as Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is a great addition to many great books. At any age, having friends provides support and promotes mental health and wellbeing. Children’s friendships are also very important for their social and emotional development. Through friendship, children learn how to relate to others. They develop social skills as they teach each other how to be good friends.
Teaching children positive social and caring skills is a huge part of the learning process at schools. It is everyone’s responsibility to help and guide children’s social development. Creativity and storytelling is the most achievable way of teaching children new life skills. Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is great for classroom storytelling and fun times in the library, a sure imitator for discussion.
Heidi Young, Library Technician & ClickView Manager, Rivermount College QLD
Noni the Pony is friendly and funny,
This latest story is right on the money.
Noni and friends go down to the sea,
To play on the sand, so happy and free.
There’s much to discover, like crabs and starfish.
There’s one happy pony whose tail gives a swish.
When it’s time to go home, the friends agree.
There’s fun to be had on a day by the sea.
Here we have another wonderful story by our first Children’s Laureate, Alison Lester, to accompany the original Noni the Pony tale. It’s a very readable story – ideal for reading aloud. The rhythm of the text matches the action and the delightful illustrations add perfectly to the experience.
If you don’t have Noni the Pony in your library or class collection, I strongly recommend considering it. We even have Year 6 students who are using it as an example of stories in rhyme. This library is certainly hoping Noni and friends will be having more adventures in the future.
Debbie Williams, Library Technician, Mountain District Christian School, Monbulk VIC
“Noni the Pony is friendly and funny” and a great character for young children, especially those who love horses. This trip to the beach involves Noni the pony, Dave the dog, Coco the cat and four cows that are referred to as “the ladies next door”. They spend the day sliding down sand dunes, frolicking in the water, building sandcastles and having a nap (although this activity’s sole participant is Coco the cat). Young children love books that rhyme and this story reads beautifully with a clear beat and lovely vocabulary.
Despite being for young readers, there are great examples of descriptive language and phrases that ‘show, don’t tell’, for example, “scattering seagulls into the sky”. The clear, beautiful illustrations enhance the story as you chuckle at Coco the cat (who is often asleep) and smile along with Noni and Dave. There are also opportunities for children to practise counting. “How many ladies next door?” and “Can you count all the creatures in the rock pool?”, for example.
Children’s engagement with this story could be extended by making connections and comparing personal beach experiences with Noni’s. This would be a great book to read to children before or after a trip to the beach or a special holiday. Older children could create their own simple poems or stories about their vacation and younger children could complete a poem as a group about a shared experience, brainstorming great rhyming words. Selecting some of the lovely descriptions from the book, such as “wades through the swells”, children could act out these descriptions to show understanding of their meaning. Groups of children could even act out the whole story – artfully interpreting Lester’s illustrations to create their own masks.
I enjoyed reading this tale and look forward to sharing it during library lessons in the lead up to the summer holidays.
Gaby Gutjahr, Teacher Librarian, Thirlmere Public School, Thirlmere NSW
This book bubbles with happiness. From its bright sunny cover, Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach conjures up memories of carefree summer holidays at the beach, frolicking in the waves on a bright sky-blue day with her friends, Coco the cat, Dave the dog and the cows from next door. Together they delight in all the pleasures of being at the seaside; sliding down the sand dunes, building sand castles, scattering seagulls, exploring rock pools and, of course, splashing and diving in the waves. There is something for everyone at the beach and although Coco doesn't enjoy the water, she is content to enjoy the sun swinging in "an old fishing net" while the "girls from next door" are happy to wade up to their knees.
It is a story about friendship, enjoying each other's company, doing things together and looking out for one another. Without even reading the words, Alison Lester's illustrations radiate the happiness inspired in the story. Her style is simple with colours that capture the Australian sun and beach. The wonderful expressions on the animals' faces tell of the good time they are having and the concern they show for each other.
The rhyming text brings the illustrations to life and you can almost feel the characters leaping off the pages with excitement. The words invite the reader to find the action within the illustrations and to delight in the special things you can do at the beach.
This book would be a most valuable inclusion in the early childhood and infant school library. Suitable themes include friendship: having fun, inclusion and looking out for one another. At the beach, summer and seasons and water and sun safety. Like Noni the Pony, Lester has once again created a masterpiece that will be treasured and read over and over again by its readers.
Jill Howard, Teacher & Librarian, Theodore ACT
Alison Lester's new book, Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach, is an enchanting and delightful book to read to a class of early years. The story is a rhythmic book, which encourages children to expand their vocabulary with beautiful and fun illustrations. The story follows, Noni the Pony and her friends, Coco the Cat, Dave the Dog and the Lady Cows who go for a day at the beach.
This colourful book would fit well into any classroom literacy program or integrated program. In particular, a thematic approach on the sea or the environment. Some suggestions for classroom teachers could be matching words with the different sounds, creating a story map sequencing the beginning, middle and end and having them draw their favourite picture or character from the story.
Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is an easy read to any early year class. Children could have a bit of fun looking and searching for the different sea creatures from the illustrations. Lots of different Art and Craft activities could be made in the classroom to launch Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach for an environmental theme. The classroom could be decorated with lots of sea creatures made from paper plates, streamers and googly eyes. Words from the story could be displayed amongst the sea creatures as a word wall, which will encourage the children to create their own Noni the Pony story or beach story.
Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is a fun and interactive story that children in the early years will love to read over and over.
Nicole Holland, Casual Relief Teacher, Bendigo VIC
Alison Lester’s Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is a gentle, happy little story most suited for early childhood children. Each page has a single sentence with a rhyme incorporated. The illustrations are simple and almost childlike in appearance. The beach setting is one most Australian children will easily relate to, allowing them to make connections with what is happening to Noni from their own experience. It is a great book for sharing with children learning about rhyme. It lends itself to sharing aloud with the teacher pausing and letting children predict the missing word/relying on rhyme to guess it. For example, the teacher could read out “Noni the pony is friendly and funny and loves to go down to the beach when it’s….?” Children love contributing like this and it is a great support for those still developing their phonemic awareness.
This book would also lend itself to further investigations of rhyme as part of a spelling program, children could brainstorm words that rhyme with the ones in the book e.g. by, sky, try, fly etc. The simple descriptions could be used to help children improving their writing, e.g. they could list adjectives and try alternate ones instead of the ones Alison has used. This book lends itself so easily to teaching literacy skills that it would be easy to forget that, at its most basic level, it is a great little story that children will simply enjoy.
Wendy Fletcher, Bellerive Primary, Rosny Park TAS
Noni the Pony is a kind, gentle, friendly and funny character, regularly found in the company of her friends Dave the Dog, Coco the Cat and the cows from next door. In this adventure, they head to the beach where they explore many pursuits, generally enjoyed by their human counterparts. Whilst Noni, Dave and the cows go sliding down the sand dunes, splash in the waves, chase seagulls and dive, Coco spends her time having a cat nap, away from the water, in an old fishing net. Building castles and moats, looking at life in the rock pools, life is good until Dave gets caught swimming too far out. Who will come to the rescue?
As in the original title, Noni the Pony is a delightful character, enjoying the simple things in life. The illustrations utilise a cartoon style, simply drawn and coloured realistically featuring pastel toned skies to depict the setting sun. When the first title was shortlisted by the Children’s Book Council in 2011, students had a wonderful time creating their own art-works based on Lester’s illustrations and I could easily imagine this title also being shortlisted.
With its rhyming text, themes of a trip to the beach, friendship, acceptance of differences, bravery, support and loyalty, this is another delightful title which younger children will be keen to listen to over and over again.
Jo Schenkel, Year 7 Class Teacher and Library Teacher, Pilgrim School, Aberfoyle Park SA