I've been busy over the past few months buying up an example of every pony book author I can find who is in print. People often ask me what they can buy today for their pony mad child: what they can go into a bookshop and pick up and buy. Unfortunately, if you go into the average bookshop, you would very soon come to the conclusion that the pony book was a dead genre, or meant only for the under 8s.
In the dim and distant past when I was buying pony paperbacks, I would find them in toyshops and even in Boots, which then had a book department. Now, the choice in my home county is severely limited. I visited Waterstones in Kettering and in Covent Garden, London, and WH Smith in Northampton and Rushden, and an independent bookshop in Market Harborough. WH Smith was better than Waterstones, but there wasn't a lot in it. Waterstones in Covent Garden had only the Katie Price paperbacks (the lack of pony possibly reflecting its city centre location), but Waterstones in Kettering wasn't a lot better, with only Heartland. The independent bookshop stocked Heartland and K M Peyton.
WH Smith in Rushden (not, it must be said, a huge shop) had Secret Unicorn and in Northampton had a K M Peyton, Pony-Mad Princess, Secret Unicorn and the ubiquitous Katie Price.
So, as a pony mad child today, wandering along to your local bookshop and hoping to find a pony book you will be very limited for choice indeed. However, once you know what is out there, your helpful local bookshop can order it for you, or you can go online yourself. During the next month or so, I will be working my way through the books you can get today.
With my fearless assistant, my 12 year old Miranda, we have read our way through them all; from the frankly appalling to the surprisingly good.
So, watch this space. We'll be reviewing a couple of books each post.