Alma is an individualistic child with a vivid imagination, but she also wants her classmates to like her and elect her Queen of the Class. Sadly, this doesn't happen and they all treat her as an outsider. Even the teacher, Meira, doesn't understand Alma, and keeps telling her off because she doesn't behave like everyone else. The story has two parts, the first realistic and the second a fantasy. It shows how one little girl manages to draw 39 pupils and the teacher, too, into her fantasy world. By the time the story ends, they've all become individualists with vivid imaginations -for a day or two at least.
The imaginary world conquers the familiar real one while Alma is waiting for her mother after school one day. She suddenly sees 39 girls who all look exactly like her. "How will all 39 get into Mommy's car?" Alma wonders. And then, magically, 39 ponies appear and the 39 girls get on them and ride along beside the car. Only one pony, Almo, has no rider, and he is Alma's pony. Almo comes to school the next day and Alma asks the teacher to let her bring him into the classroom. At first, the teacher doesn't see Almo, but before she can answer, Almo jumps in through the open window. All the children are excited when they see him. Will the teacher be able to use her imagination? The spell, it seems, works on her as well, and she also gets her own pony. Now she's not so strict any more, and she allows each child to bring something to school that is truly her or his own.
Illustration: Rutu Modan
English translation available (for publishers only)