Author RJ Palacio’s next book Pony, about facing the fear of being left alone, to be published this September

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Random House Children’s Books announced Thursday that Palacio’s Pony will be published 28 September, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies. The story of a young boy’s “harrowing yet distinctively beautiful journey” in the mid-1800s, Pony is Palacio’s first novel that doesn’t feature characters from Wonder, a contemporary story of a fifth-grader with a disfigured face that was inspired in part by the Natalie Merchant song of the same name.

Wonder came out in 2012 and is the basis for a handful of spinoffs, including a picture book and a graphic novel. It was adapted into a 2017 film starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson and has sold more than 12 million copies, according to Random House.

Pony has been with me for quite some time, partly because it took me a while to figure out how to tell an epic tale in only 60,000 words, but mostly because it’s a very personal story for me,” Palacio, 57, said in a statement. “From the time I was very young, my greatest fear had always been that I’d somehow be left alone. It’s not an uncommon childhood fear, and this novel is about facing that fear, but it’s also about realising that the connections we make in our lifetimes never really end.

“So, yes, it’s a story of resilience and courage, an adventure story in the most classic of ways, part American western, part ghost story — but for me, ultimately, it’s a story about love.”

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