I wonder how many of you spent the run up to Christmas wishing fervently for a pony, and whose Christmas lists to Father Christmas featured one thing, a pony? Mine certainly did, and I would usually be told to write another one because Father Christmas needed a few other things to go on in case he couldn't get a pony. Sadly, Father Christmas never did prove equal to the task of providing a pony for me.
I made do with other people's experiences, and Augusta, heroine of I Wanted a Pony possibly remains my favourite girl-gets-pony story. I love Augusta's feisty refusal to accept her cousins' view of her, and her dogged persistence in raising the money to buy Daybreak.
When I met Diana Pullein-Thompson we discussed the fact that she thought it one of her worst books. I asked her why, and she replied that she thought it was derivative. Derivative of what? I asked - and it was her mother's books on which she thought it was based too closely. I can see what she meant. Augusta is in some ways very similar to Jean, and is another determined and solitary character who doesn't particularly care what other people think of her and works things out in her own way. And of course Jean too has cousins, albeit not ones on the same plain of nastiness and snobbery as Augusta's.
Augusta may have been Jean's sister, but I don't think that matters - Augusta is just as believable as Jean, and the story has a sense of humour to it that perhaps Diana's later books did not have. I always think the mark of a truly good story is that it sticks in your brain. When someone mentions it to you, you are not left groping about in your brain for plots, wondering what happens in this one. And who has read I Wanted a Pony, and not come away knowing that the answer to a head shaker might well be a too-tight browband?
And Augusta does, of course, get that pony. This post is dedicated to all those children, everywhere, hoping that there might be a pony for them this Christmas.
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