Tuesday, 29 July 2014

PBOTD 28th July : Josephine Pullein-Thompson - Pony Club Team

Today's PBOTD is the first of a (probably) brief series on the sort of book cover you hope your over-protective mother will never see: those in which the hero or heroine falls off. I would think this is a cover subject that's had its day, as the only cover you get these days is the photo cover, and I simply can't imagine a publisher wanting to navigate the shark-filled waters of health and safety necessary to get a shot of someone falling off. So, make the most of these (there will be a break in the next couple of days to accommodate a rather special event in the US equine calendar).

Josephine Pullein-Thompson did quite well for falls. Besides Christopher heading rapidly for earth on the cover of the 1970s printing of Pony Club Team, there's also a dramatic fall in the same era's Armada Six Ponies. Christopher's fall is quite dramatic. Fireworks is one of those ponies who has only to see a jumping pole to go completely beserk. He is not a novice ride, and Christopher, when we first see him, is a novice. He has some very dicey moments with Fireworks, but this is probably the best, because it happens when the Major's off out, and the Pony Club decide to do their own thing. Never to that, Pony Clubbers, because it will only lead to disaster. 

The book didn't start off focussing on the dark side: here's the first edition cover.

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Monday, 28 July 2014

Review: Olivia Tuffin – The Palomino Pony Comes Home

The child of a single parent family seems to be the go-to heroine of pony books today, and so it is for Georgia. Her father has left, and Georgia spends most of her time at a local stables. Her mum thought it would be a distraction, and it is. Ponies are Georgia’s whole world. She gets rides in exchange for helping out, because there isn’t enough money for riding lessons, let alone a pony of her own. Ponies are so very much Georgia’s world that revision for exams somehow doesn’t quite happen, and after she fails the end of year exams catastrophically, she’s sent off by the school for an intensive week away in Wales.

This works out rather better than Georgia thinks it will: firstly Dan Coleman is on the course too, and he turns out to be a lot nicer than she thought he was. And secondly, Georgia finds a beautiful palomino Welsh pony in a field. The pony is due to be sold, but Georgia persuades Melanie, the owner of the stables where she rides, to take a punt on the pony. She had been given to her breeder’s grand daughter, Jemma, but Jemma is both violent and vicious and the grandfather takes the pony back. After much drama, Melanie buys the pony.  Jemma is determined to get Lily, the pony, back, and Georgia is even more determined not to let her.

This is a nicely written story, with attractive characters and a plot which will not horrify its young readers with anything too dark or difficult, and certainly nothing unexpected. The plot proceeds exactly as you think it will. It’s a good, escapist summer read for the 11-12s -  there’s just enough romance to make the book exciting, but it’s not a book that I think will suit most teenagers. Georgia does read a very young fourteen.

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book

Olivia Tuffin: The Palomino Pony Comes Home
Nosy Crow, 2014: £5.99
Kindle £3.59, Kobo £4.91

Age of main character: 14
Themes: mistreatment of ponies (not too graphic), some romance

PBOTD 28th July: Mary Gervaise - The Secret of Pony Pass

PBOTD for 28th July is Mary Gervaise's The Secret of Pony Pass. This is the last in the G for Georgia series, and was published in 1965. I have been hammering Armada in recent posts for their covers, but the Armada reprint of this title isn't all that bad, by comparison. It's a relatively inoffensive photo cover, but the original by John Raynes is another of those hang on to the pony's mouth efforts.

In fact, it's one of those pictures where you can play spot the fault to your heart's content. No hat, for one thing, elbows out, stirrups way too short....

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More on Mary Gervaise

Sunday, 27 July 2014

PBOTD 27th July: Judith M Berrisford - Jackie and the Pony Boys

PBOTD for 27th July is another from the rich seam of duff Armada covers. It's Judith M Berrisford's Jackie and the Pony Boys. This cover is a particularly awful example of the backward seat - why Misty has her ears forward I simply do not know. Could there be any more weight dragging on that poor pony's mouth?

Hang on to that pony's mouth Jackie! Her ears are forward - she doesn't mind a bit!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

PBOTD 26th July: Christine Pullein-Thompson - Riders from Afar

The PBOTD for 26th July is Christine Pullein-Thompson's Riders From Afar. Originally published in 1954, this was one of Christine Pullein-Thompson's earlier books. It's set at a castle, lived in by a poverty-stricken family who are renting the castle to an American family for the summer to raise money. The children are not looking forward to this at all, but the Americans prove to be a pretty decent lot.

The original had one of Charlotte Hough's more wispy covers, but it suffered a little when it was reprinted in paperback by Armada. Armada's cover artists visited some pretty horrible riding efforts on the pony book reading public in the 1960s, and this is one of them. It's particularly ironic if you bear in mind how agin the backward seat the Pullein-Thompsons were.

As an image, I do like this cover: it has Mary Gernat's characteristic energy. It's just a shame about the backward seat. And I do wonder quite what happened next - did the pony recover and jump the five bar gate? Or was there a terrible kerfuffle as he slammed into it?

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More on Christine Pullein-Thompson
More on Mary Gernat

Friday, 25 July 2014

PBOTD 25th July: Diana Pullein-Thompson - Horses at Home/Friends Must Part

Now the Royal Welsh is over, I'm moving on to a series which was inspired by the recent series I did on bad pony book covers. This book, and those for the next few days, show bad riding; or at least riding practices that are now out of date. If you have any particular favourites you think I should feature, do let me know. I have a few beauties lined up but there's room for more.

I'm starting fairly gently with Diana Pullein-Thompson's Horses at Home/Friends Must Part (1954). This is an unusual book, made up of two novellas. The original dustjacket, by Sheila Rose, shows the lower leg position I was taught as a child, and which I have spent the rest of my riding life fighting. 

You must just be able to see the tip of your toe, I was taught. Grip with your knees. You must be able to keep a penny between your knees and the saddle. I was taught to ride in the late 1960s, and even then this style was really more extant in the show ring than anywhere else. The Pullein-Thompsons had been teaching another way since the 1940s. It must have hurt to have seen some of the cover images that appeared on their books, but it's a rare author who has any control over their cover images.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

PBOTD 24th July: Judith M Berrisford - Jackie and the Pony Trekkers

I can't do a series on Welsh ponies without featuring the uber Welsh pony of the pony book world: Judith M Berrisford's Misty. Misty is the pony Jacqueline Hope wins in a competition, and who stars with her in a sixteen book series that was for decades the longest British pony series.

Jackie and the Pony Trekkers (1963) sees Jackie and Misty, and Jackie's cousin Babs, embark on their usual holiday adventure away from their family. Jackie and Babs are off to help at a pony trekking centre in Wales. Although Jackie and Babs constantly want to help, their efforts always meet with failure, at least to start with, and so it goes with Jackie and the Pony Trekkers. Misty is denounced as a kicker, and Jackie and Babs get the blame for anything and everything that goes wrong after that: and a lot does go wrong.

As ever, they manage to redeem themselves at last.

The Jackie series:
Jackie Won a Pony, 1958
Ten Ponies and Jackie, 1959
Jackie’s Pony Patrol, 1961
Jackie and the Pony Trekkers, 1963
Jackie’s Pony Camp Summer, 1968
Jackie and the Pony Boys, 1970
Jackie’s Show Jumping Surprise, 1973
Jackie and the Misfit Pony, 1976
Jackie on Pony Island, 1977
Jackie and the Pony Thieves, 1978
Jackie and the Phantom Ponies, 1979
Jackie and the Moonlight Pony, 1980
Jackie and the Pony Rivals, 1981
Jackie and the Missing Showjumper, 1982
Change Ponies, Jackie! 1983
Jackie’s Steeplechase Adventure, 1984
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More on Judith M Berrisford
The Royal Welsh Show