Showing posts from April, 2008

An odd thing

Well, maybe it wasn't odd. What do you think? I drove to the station as normal to pick the children up from the train, and pulled up behind a woman driving a big silver Merc. He who I presumed was her husband walked up to the car and then she got out of the driving seat so he could drive. Is she not allowed to drive him? Is he one of these men for whom being driven by a, gasp, woman, is a huge dent to his virility? It has never, not once, occurred to me to get out and let my OH drive when I pick him up from the station (not that it happens often). I might I suppose if I had a bad back and had struggled, but she skipped out like a lamb - a middle aged lamb, but a lamb nevertheless. While I drove home with my children, silent with sulks for quite different reasons but at least it made for a peaceful drive home, I tried to think of sensible reasons why one would give up one's driving seat. Maybe, as I said, the back was bad, the feet arthritic. Maybe she hates drivi

The Internal Debate

Dutiful me : You have money which your kind Mama gave you for your birthday to buy shoes, and there is a pair you like. Buy them. Book me : But there is that Dorothy Lyons I have not read on buy-it-now on ebay for less. Dutiful me : But the shoes are pretty and you haven't had a new pair in a while. Book me : The old shoes will mend. Dutiful me : No they won't. Book me : Summer is coming. I don't need shoes, and I have sandals. Dutiful me : (struggling now) Yes. You do have sandals. Aha! It has started raining. You live in England. It rains. You need shoes. Book me : You don't understand. I haven't read that Dorothy Lyons, and it is a very good price. It is not ex library. It has a dustjacket. There may not be another one along for ages. Dutiful me : and what about your mother? Don't you think you should buy the things she's expecting you to? Book me : She is the one who got me into books in the first place. Reading Wind in the Willows as a bedtime

Secret Unicorn etc

For some reason best known unto only itself, Blogger has put this post below my last one. So, follow this link to get to it.

Pony Club Secrets and For Sale or Swap

I am going off on a bit of a detour here, as For Sale or Swap , although in print, is so only in Australia, but I do have a perfectly good reason for talking about it here: it is an extremely good book. But why, oh why, is it not in print in the UK? My other review title, Mystic and the Midnight Ride, is also by an Antipodean author, Stacy Gregg. For Sale or Swap leaves it standing, and yet Mystic and its fellows are the ones in print in the UK. The only reason I can think of for For Sale not being in print over here is that its background is very obviously Antipodean. From the opening scene, with the Christmas barbecue, you know you're not in England. Mystic puzzled me. The cover has been re-done for the UK market, with ponies from South Cambridgeshire Equestrian Centre, and so I was expecting an English read. As I was reading, various things didn't quite chime right: Pony Club grounds? The Paced and Mannered event? I knew I wasn't in England, but I didn't know w

Secret Unicorn, Magic Pony and The Magic Unicorn

Next on our list are three examples of the pony meets fantasy genre, all aimed at the 8-10s. Harry Potter has changed the face of children's book publishing, and now because fantasy sells, it is colliding with other genres. The fantastic and the horse in literature isn't new: in the pony book field Primrose Cumming's Silver Snaffles and John Thorburn's Hildebrand were out there in the 1930s with horses and ponies who talked. In the wider field of children's literature, Alan Garner created the wonderful unicorn in Elidor , and the black pony, vehicle of the Brollachan and one of the most memorably sinister creations in literature, in his Moon of Gomrath, and there are Bree and Hwin, two of my favourite talking horses, in C S Lewis' The Horse and His Boy. Whether, without Harry Potter, pony books would have taken on fantasy is debatable. In the vast amount of titles published since the 1930s, very few could be described as fantasy. Michael Maguire's Mylor

BAFAB draw

has now been done - sorry for having not done it when I said I would. I completely forgot (oh the shame). The winners are: The Team: Becca Equitation: Anne Wild Swans: Booklogged Becca and Anne - could you send me your details please? You can send to

Sexism in pony books

Jessie Haas is writing a book about pony books (it will be published in 2009 and is, at the moment, called Horse Crazy), about which we've been corresponding, and she told me recently about a book she read called The Ginger Horse by Maureen Daly, which I've never read, but "has a girl hitting her teen years and starting to think that her boy friend really is smarter and stronger and more important" (quote from Jessie). That started me thinking about sexist attitudes in pony books. I suppose one of the reasons pony books are so very popular with girls is that they show girls as strong and capable, or as equal partners with boys. I'm going to pick the books I've read recently as examples (though I may be self-selecting here, as I've been reading titles by authors I already knew I liked). So, Veronica Westlake's The Mug's Game has a heroine who is initially a bit of a wimp being initiated by the twin girls with whom she goes to live into a country l

Pony Club Diaries (Kelly McKain) and A Pony Called Magic (Sheryn Dee)

School holidays have started here (I could fulminate about the strangeness of the "standard school year" with which we are now cursed, and its divorce from Easter, but won't) so my fellow critic has been released from the servitude of vicious maths tests and is now here ready to start reviewing. We're going to start with books aimed at those who are starting to read for themselves, or are reasonably confident readers. Magic and the Best Day, by Sheryn Dee Happy Cat Books, £3.99 Aimed at children of around 5 and upwards, this book contains two short stories about Magic and Jessie. It’s an Australian series about Jessie, who is 7 and lives on an Australian sheep station. For her seventh birthday Jessie is given Magic the pony, and the book contains two short stories about them and the farm. The first, Magic and the Best Day, is about the great day when Jessie is given Magic. Her parents teach her to tack him up and groom him, and Jessie has her first ride. A Bi

New pony book catalogue

now out - I'm hoping no one orders Hua Ma the Flower Pony too soon, as I haven't actually finished it yet......