Whatever Happened to the Pony Express?
Historical fiction

The rise and fall of the Pony Express

This cryptic look at the history of mail service in the United States of America is shown to readers through rhyming text and prose letters between a brother and sister who live across the country from each other. In her signature style of rhyming text, Verla Kay shows how mail service has changed through the years. From steamships and stagecoaches to camels, the Pony Express, telegraph and trains, readers will get an intriguing look at the many difficulties in the past of getting mail delivered in a timely manner.


  • Kirkus 2010: “Kay picks out the salient features in her compact verse, showing a nice hand with mood and landscape... Though the author’s telegraphic verse is effective, she adds human interest to the story’s bones by working a correspondence between and Eastern sister and transplanted Western brother into the mix. The letters are a testament to the life-changing importance of the swift completion of the mail’s rounds.”
  • Booklist 2010: “...Kay catches a sense of the Pony Express’ urgency in the terse accompanying rhymes: ‘Orphans wanted, / Riders, rough. / Risk death daily, / Must be tough.’...Readers will come away understanding the era’s need for quicker delivery of news and mail, so the broad angle of this overview provides value as preparation for any of the plethora of more detailed accounts of the Pony Express’ brief ride....”
  • Publisher’s Weekly 2010: ”This catalogue of various delivery methods, from cumbersome stagecoaches and camels to the Pony Express and telegraph, is sandwiched within a brief, epistolary story grown siblings who live across the country and share family news via these outlets; their colloquial notes and telegrams allow readers to glimpse their joys and hardships. ... packs more than a saddlebag’s worth of information.”