Sunday, 23 February 2014

PBOTD: 23rd February, Christine Pullein-Thompson - The First Rosette

There can't be many pony book fans from the 1970s who don't have a copy of The First Rosette. It was one of those books I seemed to see everywhere in my own obsessive hunt for a book with a pony in it. Whatever else the book shops of Northamptonshire lacked in the pony book department, they would always have a copy of The First Rosette, with its vivid blue backed Mary Gernat cover.

The First Rosette (1956) is one of the earliest (if not the earliest) pony books to feature a working class character. David Smith is the youngest son of a family who really struggle for money. Unlike his brother, he's not going to find his way out of his situation through education. David does it through sheer hard work.

Burke, 1956, 1st edition, illus Sheila Rose
He has his share of luck: after he catches the pony of the Master's daughter, he's invited to tea and rewarded with the chance to borrow a pony. Sinbad, the hunt pony, is not an unmixed blessing. He's of uncertain temper, but David sticks with it. He works at the Hunt kennels to cover the pony's keep, and does a paper round too.
Dragon pb, 1967, cover Mary Gernat
David's struggle is contrasted with the existence of the Master's daughter, Pat. She has everything she wants, but she and David become friends, and eventually they start a riding school together, and go on, in The Second Mount (1957) and Three to Ride (1958) to survive the demise of the riding school, and Pat's stay in London as a debutante.

Dragon pb, date and illustrator unknown
The First Rosette was published first by Burke in 1956. It was republished several times in the same form, before Dragon published it as a paperback with a new cover by Mary Gernat. Dragon re-issued the book with a different cover illustration, whose creator I have not been able to find out.

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For a full listing of Christine Pullein-Thompson's remarkable oeuvre, see my website.

2 comments:

Joanna Kenny said...

I found Three to Ride at a jumble sale recently, I haven't read the first two. I really enjoyed it, and found it quite a thoughtful contemplation of having no money, working for a living, and being unfairly treated.

janebadgerbooks said...

I was fond of it when I was a child. I found it harder to read as an adult, probably because I noticed the author's stylistic tics, and the swoops of emotion, which didn't bother me at all then. Perhaps I was more emotional then? But yes, I did like the fact that David showed a totally different facet of the horse world. It is, I think, one of her stronger series.