As you probably know, the television reboot of the My Little Pony franchise (Friendship Is Magic) has managed to find an older audience than the elementary school-aged girls one would have expected. As a regular viewer of the show and frequent YA reader, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what titles the ponies would read in their free time.
One thing I really like about the show is that it has a strong pro-female message. The show presents female characters who routinely solve problems by conducting research, reaching out to friends, and finding strength within themselves. In addition to encountering magical Big Bads, the ponies encounter real world problems such as bullying, low self-esteem, over-committing, and being too proud to ask for help. Because of this theme, I have selected books with female protagonists for all of the characters.
Today, I am focusing on three of the main six ponies: Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity.
When Friendship Is Magic began, Twilight Sparkle was sent to Ponyville to learn the value of having friends. She was the best student studying under the Princess, but she missing a social component in her education. Twilight lives in a tree-house library, surrounded by books and often encourages research when faced with trouble. However, Twilight is also a unicorn and, therefore, magical. She must find balance between magic, research, and friendship to ultimate solve her problems.
I think that Twilight Sparkle would enjoy The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (2012 Morris Award Finalist, 2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults) which is the story of Elisa, a princess and the Chosen One. Married off to a king whose people need her to save them, Elisa lives in a world of magic. She must fight to live long enough to save the people who need her, while avoiding those who hunt her for her power. Twilight has recently become a princess herself and has been forced to save all of Equestria on more than one occasion.
I also think that Twilight Sparkle would enjoy Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2009 Morris Award Finalist, 2009 Teens’ Top Ten, 2012 Popular Paperback for Young Adults) for similar reasons. Royalty, magic, and a strong female fighter would all appeal to Twilight’s love of reading, fantasy, and adventure.
Rainbow Dash is a hot-shot, competitive Pegasus who definitely feels the need for speed. She is most often found zipping around the skies: flying for fun, work, and sport. From the show, we know what fictional series Rainbow Dash would most likely be found reading: the Daring Do series by A.K. Yearling. Despite the fact that the authors name is clearly a reference to J.K. Rowling, the adventures of Daring Do are more Indiana Jones than they are Harry Potter. I think, though, that Rainbow Dash would absolutely love Elizabeth Wein’s historical fiction companion books Code Name Verity (2013 Printz Honor Book, 2013 Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults) and Rose Under Fire (2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults). These books feature female pilots during WWII, young women who were actively engaged in the war in a manner that was not open to most women. These books are stories of strength and survival, right up Rainbow’s alley.
Rarity would totally judge a book by its cover. She is a designer and loves all things shiny and beautiful. This is why I think she would be immediately drawn to Kiera Cass’s Selection series. The covers of these books are gorgeous and Rarity would absolutely love the dresses. I can imagine her immediately running out to make pony-sized versions of them.
I think she would also pick up These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner for the dress depicted on the cover. The fabric flowing over the bottom of the image looks amazing in front of the star-filled night sky behind the couple and complements the girl’s red hair perfectly.
Finally, Rarity would also be drawn to the Daughter of Smoke and Bones series by Laini Taylor. These books do not contain dresses to draw Rarity in, but the close up images of a face obscured by masks, makeup, and other brightly colored designs have a certain drama that Rarity would be more than happy to include in some of her own designs.
Next time, we’ll take a look at what Applejack, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie would likely to be reading!
– Jessica Lind, currently reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han