Leah's Pony

This Depression Era story paints a realistic picture of the hard life of American farm families during the l930s. Leah decides to sell her beloved pony in order to raise enough money to help her family keep their farm. The day of the farm auction arrives - what will happen to all of Mama and Papa's prize possessions?

Interested in using this resource in your classroom? Check out the posters that go along with this book: Price, Economic Wants, Scarcity, Opportunity Cost, Supply & Demand.

Comprehension Questions

Why was Papa able to buy Leah a pony at the beginning of the book?

Papa had a very good (tall and straight) corn crop. We can infer that he probably produced a lot of bushels that year and got a corn price high enough to afford the pony.

Why did Leah's family have to sell their possessions?

Leah's papa had borrowed money from the bank to buy seeds, but the seeds had dried up and blown away. Now they had no crop to harvest and sell in order to pay back the bank. Even if the market price of corn was high, papa had no corn to sell! The bank was going to sell the family cattle, chickens, pickup truck, tractor, and other farm items to recoup the money it had loaned to Papa.

The bank was going to sell the family's possessions at a farm auction. What is an auction? How are prices determined in an auction?

In an auction, items are sold to the highest bidder. The item is supplied by the auctioneer; the item is demanded by the those bidding on it. Thus, in an auction, the price is determined by supply and demand.

How did Leah decide to help her family pay back the loan to keep from selling all the farm animals and equipment?

She sold her pony to Mr. B., the grocery store owner. She used the money she earned from the sale to bid on items in the auction.

What was Leah's opportunity cost when she decided to sell her pony?

Leah had a choice to sell or keep her pony. When she chose to sell the pony, her opportunity cost was giving up all the benefits of riding the prized possession she loved so much.

Explain how selling the tractor in order to keep the land would affect the family.

Selling the tractor (a valuable capital resource) at a high enough price would help pay the bank debt; however, Leah's father wouldn't be able to plant any more corn without a tractor. This might force the family to leave the farm.

Explain how Leah's neighbors helped her family save their possessions.

The neighbors held a penny auction. (See Author's Note in back of the book for information about a penny auction.) Rather than purchasing papa's possessions and keeping them for themselves, they bid very low at the auction, purchasing the items for very small amounts of money. After the auction was over, they gave the items back to Leah's family - absolutely free!

The penny auction helped Leah's family save their possessions? How did it affect the bank?

It hurt the bank because the bank was not paid back for the money it had loaned to Papa. Many banks failed during the Great Depression because many debtors were not able to pay back loans.

How was Leah rewarded for her efforts to save her family's farm?

Mr. B., the grocery store owner, gave her back the pony for helping to save her family's farm.

Author: Elizabeth Friedrich
Illustrator: Michael Garland
Published: 1999
Grade Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader Level/Points: .5
Publisher: Boyd Mills Press