Friday, 11 June 2010

Dumbing down?

Thanks to the wonders of internet book selling, it's now relatively easy to get hold of newly published titles from abroad. Jean Slaughter Doty's much loved Mokey books Summer Pony and Winter Pony have been republished by Random House.

Jean Slaughter Doty is one of my favourite American authors, so I was pleased to see the Mokey books were going to be readily available. However, beware: the books have been republished as part of Random House's Stepping Stones series, so this doesn't mean you're going to be the original text. What you will get is nice, short sentences and simplified content.

Below are examples of how it's changed - thank you Susan Bourgeau for sending me this.

If you have a reluctant reader, then go ahead and buy, but if you're looking to recapture the magic of a book you read when you were young, hang out for a secondhand copy.

Summer Pony 2008

It was a gloomy gray day in March. A threat of late snow was in the air when the station wagon bumped to a stop by the shabby barn.

Ginny was shivering. She got out of the car and waited for her mother. Somehow, everything here seemed awful and unreal. This was the day her dreams were supposed to come true. She was going to have a pony, a pony of her own, for the whole summer ahead.

Plans had already been made with the owner of the Sweetbriar Pony Farm. She could choose any one of all the ponies in his stable. But something was wrong. They must have made a wrong turn off the main road. Nobody could keep ponies in a place like this.

She could feel the cold mud oozing through her sneakers. Her mother came up beside her. She wore a hopeful look on her face. She was trying to make the best of a bad situation. “Here we are, dear. I wonder where Mr. Dobbs can be?”

Summer Pony 1973

It was a miserable gray day in March, with a threat of late snow in the air, when the station wagon bumped to a stop by the shabby barn.

Ginny was shivering as she got out of the car and waited for her mother. Somehow, everything here seemed unpleasant and unreal. This was the day her dreams were supposed to come true. She was to have a pony, a pony of her own, for the whole summer ahead. Arrangements had already been made with the owner of the Sweetbriar Pony Farm for her to choose any one of all the ponies in his stable. But something was wrong. They must have made a wrong turn off the main road. Nobody could keep ponies in a place like this.

She could feel the cold mud oozing through her sneakers. Her mother came up beside her. She wore her let’s-make-the-best-of-an-unpleasant-situation look on her face. “Here we are, dear. I wonder where Mr. Dobbs can be?”

Winter Pony 2008

“Hey Mokey!” Ginny Anderson ran down the hill. She called cheerfully to her pony. A small bucket of hot mash swung from her hand.

Mokey whinnied in answer. Ginny could hear her through the twilight. Ginny could also hear the sound of quick hoofbeats. She saw Mokey in a blurred pattern of brown and white. Mokey trotted up to the paddock gate.

“Hi Moke.” Ginny stopped to give her pony a quick pat. Then she let herself into the small tack room. It was in the stable, next to the paddock. She turned on the lights and unhooked the narrow door into the stall. Mokey was waiting inside. She was peering into her feed tub. She looked like she was waiting for her supper to appear like magic. Ginny poured the sweet hot mash into the tub. Mokey stuck her muzzle deep into the swirling steam with a sigh of joy.

Winter Pony 1975

“Hey, Mokey!” Ginny Anderson ran down the hill as she called cheerfully to her pony, a small bucket of hot mash swinging from one hand.

Thorough the twilight Mokey whinnied in answer. Ginny could hear the sound of quick hoofbeats, and Mokey appeared in a blurred pattern of brown and white as she trotted up to the paddock gate.

“Hi, Moke.” Ginny stopped to give her pony a quick pat and then let herself into the small tack room in the stable, beside the paddock. She switched on the lights, unlatched the narrow door into the stall, and found Mokey waiting inside, peering into her feed tub as though waiting for her supper to appear like magic.

Ginny poured the sweet, hot mash into the tub, and Mokey plunged her muzzle deep into the swirling steam with a sigh of contentment.

5 comments:

Sarah said...

Argh. I've long hated the unfortunate replacement of the original Savitt cover with the current one (I like Ruth Sanderson's artwork mostly, but this is too cutesy) but I never bothered picking it up and didn't realize they'd condensed it too. So pointless, considering it's already a fairly simple book.

Jane Badger said...

It's a pity that the longer version isn't published too: I fear it means that a whole generation will grow up thinking the Stepping Stones version is the "real" version.

Susanna said...

Can you imagine what would happen if these people got their mitts on National Velvet?

Jane Badger said...

Only too easily...

Amblus said...

Ugh, this is such a shame! The Mokey books were among my absolute favorites growing up and I did just fine reading them when I was 9 or 10 years old. I hate that they dumbed them down. I think I still have my original paperback copy of Summer Pony somewhere! The cover was really good.