Victoria Eveleigh: Katy's Pony Surprise
Orion, 2012, £4.99
Kobo, £2.99, Kindle, £2.99
Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book
Katy's Pony Surprise originally appeared as Katy's Exmoor Friends. This edition has been re-written and updated, and it loses none of the freshness of the original.
Katy's Exmoor Pony, Trifle, is now four. She's broken in, but still very green. She and Katy are on their way to Pony Club Camp: Katy can't take her larger and more experienced pony, Jacko, as he's lame. Nevertheless, she's looking forward to Pony Club Camp. Her best friend Alice is going. What can go wrong? Wanting Trifle to run before she can walk, and a deeply unsympathetic instructor, for a start. As ever with Victoria Eveleigh's heroine, Katy meets her problems head on. She is determined to show Trifle, and when Val, the instructor from hell turns out to be riding one of Katy's competitors, she's momentarily phased, but manages to settle down and get on with the job. That is not to say that Katy is a perfect girl: she still has plenty to learn, particularly the difference between what you think a pony wants and what it actually does.
Victoria Eveleigh's books are firmly grounded in their community. What I particularly enjoy about her books is the wealth of characters, and the real sense the reader gets of how the whole community reacts and lives life. It's easy for a pony book to concentrate just on the rider and the pony, to its detriment, but here the farm Katy lives on, Exmoor and its inhabitants are a vivid part of the whole.
The ponies are beautifully done too. Trifle's willingness to please and occasional bewilderment are completely recognisable. None of this would matter if Katy herself were not a thoroughly attractive character, but she is a gem. She's beautifully observed, and what the reader gets is a neat and involving slice of her life.
Victoria Eveleigh's pony stories are some of the best available at the moment. If you've been debating whether or not to get them, do.