Saturday, 15 February 2014

PBOTD: 15th February, Irene Makin - Ponies in the Attic

Today's book is Irene Makin's Ponies in the Attic. This is quite a timely book for me, as it's about having to move away from a house you love. Heroine Debbie is fulfilling the moving to the country dream, but she's lonely, as she finds her cousins and her aunt, with whom she lives, difficult to get on with. The house is in the New Forest, and in the attic Debbie finds someone's drawn pictures of the ponies on the walls. They were drawn by Dan, who used to live in the house, and who misses it desperately.

Hutchinson first edition, 1970, illus Elisabeth Grant
About this time last year, we moved from our much loved, money-draining, stone millstone to a house as different as could be: a seventies palace in the middle of town. It was a wrench to sell the house, because we loved it. The new owners have thrown sackloads of cash at it (which it did need) and it's odd to drive past and see it shrouded in scaffolding. Odd, because there's a sense of regret that we never managed to sort out the chimneys and the pointing, but I'm also pleased that someone is doing it at last, and I'm even more pleased that I don't have to pay for it, and wake night after night in a cold sweat of dread at the parlous state of my bank account.

As a child, you don't have quite the same view, if you move. To you, it may be the only house you've ever known: the one where all your memories are centred, and to move is like wrenching your life out by the roots, and that's what it's like for Dan in Ponies in the Attic.

Puffin paperback, 1973
Dan resents Debbie for living in his house: it must feel almost as if she's stolen his life. They do overcome this obstacle, and become real friends. The book is a satisfying read, and is one of the few pony books Puffin editor Kaye Webb picked up. Although she was, reportedly, very dismissive of the pony book, that didn't stop her picking up some of the better examples in the genre, more of which will appear in later PBOTDs.

Ponies in the Attic was first published by Hutchinson in 1970, and was illustrated by Elisabeth Grant. Puffin published the book in 1973, when it appeared in paperback with a slightly different cover illustration.

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For more on Irene Makin, see her page on my website.

1 comment:

grackle1 said...

I was given this book on my first trip to visit family in Ireland when I was a little girl...still have it! Read it many times and it brings back fond memories. I should take a look at it again, as this past year I too left a house I loved and moved into something quite different!