Thursday, 6 November 2008

And the winner is...

Anne Bullen's A Pony to School.



I think Anne Bullen was supreme at catching the wish fulfilment element of pony books. Her ponies are not 100% as ponies are, but they certainly are as they canter through your dreams; breedy, kindly and oh so noble. Her Cascade in Wish for a Pony was my childhood dream of bliss, as was Daybreak in I Wanted a Pony.
I wonder if that's why she's won out over artists who are arguably technically more accomplished? I know that when I voted in the rounds coming up to the final that the emotional pull of several of the dustjackets won out over the technical expertise of others.

Lionel Edwards is one who I think lost out because of this. In the initial round of over 60 books, there were 13 of his titles, with Anne Bullen having 8 and Sam Savitt, Sheila Rose and Peter Biegel (a Lionel Edwards pupil with a very similar style) following on behind with 3 each. There's absolutely no element of fantasy whatsoever in Lionel Edwards' style: he gives us horses and ponies straight - although one might argue that his portrayal of the Exmoor Moorland Mousie, who turns into a rather Thoroughbred-influenced being shows an element of wish fulfilment. Nice breedy types please: none of your hairy ponies.

I still love his illustrations; and if I had to choose between Lionel Edwards and Anne Bullen for something to put up on my wall, I'd go for Lionel, out of sheer appreciation for something wonderful to look at, but for that emotional pull to the dreams of childhood, it's Anne every time.

3 comments:

Bovey Belle said...

I think you and I must be twins, seperated at birth! I've just come across your blog via my blog-hopping activities (how to start the week!) and we seem to share the same addiction to the horsey books of our youth. I too, could discuss the merits of the various artists who illustrated them, and whilst I love the lovely Araby horses that Anne Bullen drew, Lionel Edwards drew horses that I knew . . . if you get my meaning. I have framed illustrations of his from various horsey books going up my stairway, relics from the days when I would find the illustrations loose and for sale in Salisbury . . . Happy days. P.S. I still have all my old pony books too, but they are SO hard to find in hardback, even at car boot sales . . .

Jane Badger said...

bovey belle - welcome! I entirely know what you mean about the difference in AB and LE's horses. A few weeks ago I went round Hay on Wye, and could have counted the amount of pony books for sale on one hand, which surprised me.

Bovey Belle said...

It's a lean hunting ground there I must confess - unless they fly off the shelves (or never reach them because of internet listings?) In fact, we visit Hay quite regularly and several times recently I have - and as a bookaholic I hate to admit this - come away empty-handed!

I must confess I went off the main bookseller there (no name no pack drill) when I was offered £10 for my "horribly damaged" but desirable book (two tiny holes in spine) - the cheapest price for it I've ever seen was £150 and that was one which was literally fallen apart). Leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Of course, had I wanted to BUY that book, the price would have been megabucks. . .