Kate Beaton’s picture book The Princess and the Pony shows its readers that strength can be found in the most unexpected sources. Princess Pinecone, the smallest warrior in her kingdom, dreams of a gift like a shield or helmet that will give her success in battle. However, Princess Pinecone keeps receiving birthday gifts that are soft rather than hard: a whole assortment of cozy sweaters. Finally, Princess Pinecone decides to ask for a strong, fast racehorse so she can compete with the other warriors.
On her birthday, instead of a racehorse, Princess Pinecone receives a little, round, soft pony. The pony isn’t what Princess Pinecone wanted: it’s “too small,” “too round,” and sometimes cross-eyed. As the upcoming battle comes close, Princess Pinecone is frustrated by her inability to teach the pony to be a “real warrior horse” and to help her hold her own against the larger, tougher warriors.
But ultimately it is the pony that gives Princess Pinecone her biggest victory in battle: the other warriors are so overwhelmed by the adorable pony that they put their weapons aside to admire its roly-poly cuteness. “We warriors don’t often get to show our cuddly sides,” they tell Princess Pinecone, who then surprises them with a gift of cozy sweaters for them all! The Princess and the Pony is a story of companionship, gentleness, and the idea of looking at the world from a new perspective. It shows children that winning doesn’t always mean having the strongest armor, but showing people that they can treat each other with kindness and care.