One Trick Pony

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
One Trick Pony Book Poster Image
Alien-invasion tale has unique look, engrossing story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

One Trick Pony presents an unusual alien invasion. Shows a dystopian world but stresses that the preservation of human knowledge is essential.

Positive Messages

Different societies must sometimes stand together to defeat a common enemy. Bravery and persistence usually have positive results.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young explorer Strata is brave, resourceful, and persistent, refusing to leave her robot pony behind. She's willing to fight to protect her friends and family from invading Pipers.

Violence & Scariness

The alien Pipers chase Strata and her friends, hoping to catch and eat them. The Ferals threaten to hang Inby, Pick, and Auger for horse rustling. Strata and the other Caravaners strike back by breaking the eye-like globes of the Pipers.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that One Trick Pony is a science-fiction graphic novel by Nathan Hale. Set in a desolate future in the aftermath of an alien invasion, the story follows four teens as they and a special robot pony work to rescue their family and protect their technological legacy. The level of violence is very low, but it includes attacks by aliens and by feral humans who want to hang Pick and Inby for horse rustling. 

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What's the story?

In ONE TRICK PONY, Strata, her brother Auger, and their friend Inby make a momentous discovery while scavenging: a room full of high-tech wonders from Earth's brighter past. Strata also finds a marvelous robot pony, with which she instantly bonds. When they're attacked by aliens who suck up electrical devices and human limbs, the kids run for their lives, trying to get to their families before the alien Pipers reach them.

Is it any good?

Alien invasions are old hat these days, but this action-packed graphic novel has the right mix of clever design and original storytelling to set it apart from the pack. One Trick Pony allows author-illustrator Nathan Hale the chance to display his serious side without losing his sense of humor. The artwork has a muted pallet of yellows and grays, but the bursts of spot color add to the sense of urgency when needed. After so many close calls and escapes from danger, the climax may seem a little perfunctory to some readers, but most will be satisfied by how this engrossing graphic novel ends.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how One Trick Pony depicts the future of humankind. Why do readers like stories with dystopian settings?

  • Strata insists that they not abandon the robot pony. Why are compassion and loyalty important parts of human nature?

  • What kinds of stories work well as graphic novels? What effects can comics achieve that are more difficult in prose stories?

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