Emily was so excited, she could hardly breathe. The fairground was filled with colors and sounds, and she couldn't wait to try some of the fantastic rides. She turned slowly on the spot, wondering which ride to go on first.
"Come on, Emily! Max has spotted an airplane ride." Emily's big sister, Jane, was calling her. Jane had brought Emily and Max to the fair as a treat. They'd been looking forward to it for ages.
"Coming!" Emily called back, running after her sister. The airplanes didn't look very exciting to her, but maybe that was because she was eight and Max was only five. Jane helped Max into one of the blue and yellow planes. As the ride swooped around he made "neeeoow" noises and pretended to talk to the control tower. He was very disappointed when it stopped, so Emily suggested getting some cotton candy.
"I don't want any cotton candy!" Max wailed. "I want to go on the airplanes again!"
"But this is the only ride we've seen! The others will be fun, too," Emily promised.
"Noooo! This one, this one, this one!" Max's face turned bright red as he got ready to have one of his tantrums.
"Okay!" Jane said. "You can have one more ride on the plane. Just one, remember!"
Max beamed, and Emily sighed. Max always got his own way because he was the youngest. She had a feeling that just one more ride wouldn't be enough for her little brother.
Luckily Max felt so dizzy after his second spin on the airplane that he didn't protest when Emily and Jane said they wanted to find some different rides.
Emily led the way through the fairground, holding one of Max's sticky hands. What should she go on? The superslide? The bumper cars?
Suddenly she heard a lovely tune playing in the distance. It was almost as if the music was calling her! She pulled Max and Jane along behind her as she followed the tinkling notes.
"Oh look!" Emily gasped.
The music was coming from an old-fashioned carousel, painted in sparkling red and gold. The colors flashed as it twirled merrily around. Emily thought she'd never seen anything so beautiful.
All three of them stopped. "It's so pretty!" said Emily. "Jane, please may I have a ride on that?"
Jane laughed. "Of course you can."
The carousel slowed down and the music faded away. Emily ran over to look at the ponies. She admired a lovely dapple-gray circus pony with twinkling eyes and a dashing Arabian with a flowing mane. Then she spotted a gorgeous pony the color of caramel ice cream that she recognized from her pony magazines. It was a snow rescue pony! Snow rescue ponies were used in mountain countries for traveling in deep snow. They were Emily's favorite kind of pony! They looked different from other ponies, with their small bodies. She loved the way they had a cute black stripe running from the top of their head all the way down their back.
The wooden pony had a kind face. Emily climbed the steps to the carousel and stroked the pony's neck. His leather bridle had little silver bells jingling on it, tied with bunches of yellow ribbon. His coat looked soft and furry—Emily knew it had to be very thick to keep him warm through snowy winters. She ran her hand down the pony's mane. It stood straight up, just like a zebra's. She noticed he had faint zebra stripes on his legs, too.
A booming voice behind Emily startled her. "Hello there! Are you admiring my mountain pony?"
Emily turned around to find a sparkly-eyed gentleman in a green velvet suit standing beside the carousel. "He's beautiful!" Emily said, running down the steps to stand beside him.
The carousel owner raised his green-striped top hat to Emily and bowed low. "I'm Mr. Barker and this is my Magic Pony Carousel. Would you like to have a ride on one of my ponies?" he asked.
Emily nodded. "Yes, please!"
Mr. Barker rubbed his hands together, then blew on them hard. "Brrrr! It's chilly today, don't you think? Winter's on its way." He opened his hands again, revealing a little pile of pink tickets cupped in his palms.
Emily stared in astonishment. Where had all those pink tickets come from?
"Take a ticket, my dear!" said Mr. Barker. "The name of your pony will be written on it."
Emily reached for the corner of a pink ticket that was poking out from the pile. She really wanted to ride the snow rescue pony! She unfolded the ticket with trembling fingers. In swirly black writing it read Crystal.
She looked hopefully up at Mr. Barker, and he nodded at the carousel. "Take a look!" he said.
Emily climbed up onto the carousel again. All the ponies had a little name plate attached to the pole in front of their saddles. She peered up to read the caramel-colored pony's name. Crystal! It was the perfect name for a snow pony!
"Thank you!" she said to Mr. Barker. "He's exactly the pony I wanted to ride!"
Mr. Barker smiled, and Emily scrambled onto Crystal's back. His saddle was made of heavy leather. Underneath it was a beautiful dark red saddlecloth, embroidered with tiny flowers and leaves in twinkling gold thread. Emily felt so safe on Crystal's back.
Mr. Barker stood in the middle of the carousel and twirled a golden handle. The tinkling tune played once more, and Emily laughed out loud as she felt Crystal swoop into the air. She waved to Jane and Max, who were watching her, and they waved back.
The carousel began to spin faster, and the fairground became a blur of laughing faces. Everything started to disappear in a rainbow mist. Emily blinked. She wanted to rub her eyes, but they were going so fast, she didn't dare let go of Crystal's reins. Silvery sparkles whirled around her, and the rainbow colors of the fairground changed to dazzling white. Everything shone and glittered with light, and Emily gasped out loud.
This wasn't the fairground anymore. She and Crystal were in the middle of a snowstorm!