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Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl
Published March 27th, 2012 by Candlewick Press
Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take
Published April 23, 2013 by Candlewick Press
Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season
Published August 12th, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Author: Jessie Haas
Illustrator: Alison Friend

Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl Goodreads Summary: Come along for a spirited ride as Bramble – a horse with interesting “little ways”- and her devoted girl, Maggie, make their debut in this inviting early reader.

Maggie wants a pony to ride and take care of, and to prepare she’s been reading a big book on horse care. Meanwhile, Bramble is bored with giving riding lessons and walking in circles. She’s looking for just the right person to take her away from her routine. Is it a perfect match? Maggie loves Bramble as soon as she sees her, but there are some things Bramble has to be sure of. Will Maggie let Bramble venture into new places? Will she protect Bramble from strange objects in the yard? Will she, most importantly, know when Bramble needs her undivided attention? This charming and funny early reader is an ideal match for young animal lovers and anyone who has ever longed for a friend who truly understands.

Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take Goodreads Summary: Maggie and her mischievous horse, Bramble, are back for another spirited romp through the ins and outs of friendship.

Maggie loves introducing her new horse, Bramble, to the neighborhood, the beach, and the backyard. Bramble has fun too, once she is cajoled into participating by a well-timed carrot or two. But when Maggie has to go to school, Bramble is bored and lonely and gets into some trouble with Mr. Dingle next door. A misbehaving hen and a midnight visitor finally help to turn Bramble into a good neighbor. This charming and funny early reader flows at just the right pace for kids who are learning that others don’t always do exactly what you want, but that friends find a way to give and take.

Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season Goodreads Summary: Bramble, a persnickety but lovable horse, and Maggie, her patient owner, build an even stronger friendship as they brave the surprises of autumn.

In their third adventure, Bramble and Maggie explore a new season together — fall! Leaves crunch underfoot. Acorns ping off rooftops. It all makes Bramble feel wonderfully spooky. But Bramble’s frisky-pretend-scary gait makes Maggie jumpy, and soon Bramble really is nervous. There are alarming new sights and sounds everywhere, like Mr. Dingle’s scarecrow. When Maggie takes a fall, will she want to get back in the saddle? And when Halloween comes, can Maggie trust Bramble to brave the tricks and lead them both safely to the treats?

Kellee’s Review: There is a very specific time in a kid’s life where they are ready to begin reading longer books, but not ready to tackle chapter books yet. This is where Bramble and Maggie fits. These early chapter books will are perfect texts to help lead kids to longer chapter books. The work well for their targeted age level in that they never speak down to readers and have excellently paced stories that hold readers’ attention and will help them feel successful.  On top of all this, the Bramble and Maggie stories are just so sweet! I love all the different adventures they go on and the lessons they learn like overcoming fear, conquering loneliness, and gaining responsibility. Readers will adore these books. 

Ricki’s Review: Kellee hit the nail on the head. As I was reading, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I have these books available to me when I was transitioning to chapter books?” I remember being devastated that my books no longer had pictures in them, and I resisted the longer texts for this reason. This series is engaging, educative, and fun! The words repeat in ways that will help students learn the vocabulary, particularly the more difficult words that relate to horses. Each book delivers a strong message, and the bond between Bramble and Maggie is one which will connect with readers. When I think about these books, I will always remember Maggie dragging her sleeping bag to the stable to sleep beside Bramble. I can’t wait to share these books with my pre-service elementary school teachers. They will have a special place in classrooms.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Readers would be wise to explore how Haas develops theme in these texts. Each individual book has a different theme, and the content beautifully incorporates the messages. These books would be great models for students to learn about implicit versus explicit themes.

Discussion Questions: What lessons has Maggie learned since she has gotten Bramble? What lessons has Bramble learned since he’s met Maggie?; How has Bramble changed since he went to live with Maggie?; In what ways does the author show the bond of friendship throughout the books?

We Flagged: “Bramble lowered her head. Maggie gave her a carrot, and Bramble took it. She let Maggie put on the bridle. This was better. Give and take” (p. 9 of Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take)

Read This If You Loved: The Franklin School Friends series by Claudia Mills, The Pony Mysteries series by Jeanne Betancourt, and The Pony Scout series by Catherine Hapka

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Q & A with Jessie Haas

What inspired you to write this series? What inspired you to write about a horse?

I was inspired by two things in writing the Bramble and Maggie books. First, I had a story rejected by Candlewick, but with a request attached. The editor had girls who loved horses and horse books and had read some of mine and they noticed that they were always checked out of the public library. So Candlewick asked if I would like to write a couple of books for beginning readers.

At the time I had just gotten a new horse, Robin. She has a somewhat prickly personality, which I think inspired Bramble’s name, and the way horses and people mesh with each other was on my mind. Of course, I knew my version of events, but I’m always aware that horses have their own points of view, so the story would need to be told from both Bramble’s and Maggie’s perspectives.

What was it like to work with an illustrator? What does the process look like?

Like most authors, I don’t actually “work with” the illustrator. The editor and I work until we have a solid draft. Then the text is sent to the illustrator and she sends sketches. When the editor and I see them, it becomes obvious where we need to add or drop words (usually drop) to make space on the page. A lot of times, the art is telling the story already, and that makes some of the words unnecessary.

Alison Friend lives in England, so we did have one big change she needed to make in the first book. The wonderful picture at the beginning of Chapter Two, with Maggie and her family in the car, had the steering wheel on the right, as in British cars. I must admit, it took me a few times looking at the pictures to spot that. The pencil sketches are always funny and energetic, but the magic happens when Alison begins to paint, and it is always tremendously exciting to see the finished pages. And I got to see the original art for Spooky Season, which was thrilling. I think Spooky Season is one of the most beautiful books I have ever had published.

How do you envision your texts being taught in classrooms? Do you have any suggestions for our viewers who are teachers?

I’m usually stumped by that question. Now, though, I have a great new curriculum guide (it’s a free download on my website) I love some of the ideas there. Spooky Season, the newest book, explores the theme of fear—how we pretend to be afraid (for fun), how we scare ourselves (for fun), and how we sometimes get really scared—and that’s not fun! Bramble is truly afraid of some Halloween decorations like Mr. Dingle’s scarecrow—until she finds out it’s good to eat

Maggie runs into the situation every horseman faces sooner or later. You fall off, and you know you’re supposed to get right back on, or the fear will grow and you might not be able to. That’s easier said than done, of course. But Bramble takes care of Maggie the way good horses do, and Maggie has the experience that I remember from my own life as my very first time confronting and overcoming fear. These are great discussions to have around Halloween.

For Give and Take, the discussion is more about a truly basic issue in children’s—indeed, everyone’s—lives: power. Bramble feels that no one should be the boss all of the time. There should be some give and take. As well as story sequencing discussions, this is a chance for children to talk about—and draw—a time in their own lives when they learned to share, and give a little.

And Horse Meets Girl has a wonderful activity where children are encouraged to imagine, describe and draw their ideal pet. I also love the idea of Maggie needing a babysitter for Bramble, which could be a springboard for kids writing their own stories. The curriculum guide was created for me by Blue Slip Media, working with an educational consultant who’s also an elementary school teacher, and it’s keyed to Common Core curriculum standards—so it’s educationally sound as well as fun.

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Jessie Haas has always loved horses and has written more than thirty books, most of them about horses, including the first two books ab out Bramble and Maggie. She says, “Horses love pretending to be scared, just like us, and fall is the perfect season for that. Why do they call it fall?” Jessie Haas lives in Vermont with her husband, writer Michael J. Daley; her horse; two cats; a dog; and a hen. For more information, and to download a free curriculum guide, visit her website: http://www.jessiehaas.com/.

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media and Jessie Haas for having us as part of the blog tour!**

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3 Responses to Blog Tour, Review, and Author Q&A!: Bramble and Maggie Series by Jessie Haas

  1. Jessie Haas says:

    Thanks for the lovely reviews of the Bramble and Maggie books. I hope kids have as much fun reading them as I did writing them.

    • Kellee says:

      They are such fun books! I’ve already lent them to my friend’s 4 year old daughter who LOVES them! Thank you for stopping by 🙂

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