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Showing posts from September, 2012

Anne Bullen and a horsy Sunday

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Anne Bullen
The Osborne Studio Gallery
2 Motcomb Street,
London, SW1X 8JU
020 7235 9667
18th September 2012 - 4th October 2012




Here I am, fresh-ish from the Anne Bullen exhibition, on what what was a thoroughly horsy Sunday. After rocking up late to the British Museum (train late) to meet my friends, we whirred round the Horse exhibition, which finishes on the 30th September: the Museum are obviously keen to divest themselves of their horsey merchandise before then. Much of it is on special offer. We then trekked off to St John's, Hyde Park, for Horseman's Sunday where those London horses and riders who can get there gather for their horses to be blessed.



Riders are a hardy lot, generally, and they needed to be on Sunday, because it rained, and once it had finished raining it poured. And carried on pouring. The horses behaved amazingly well. The Hyde Park Stables equines had beautifully plaited manes and tails, with riders equally smart. I wondered if there had been pony book sc…

Review: Victoria Eveleigh - Katy's Pony Surprise

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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 t…

Morning walks no longer

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It's getting darker and darker, and there really isn't enough light to take a half-decent photograph in the mornings. I realised it was time to stop when I was up and at the fields before the rooks and geese flew in for their breakfast. I like standing and watching them all fly in across the valley (dogs are not too keen on this hanging about though.)


So, it will be afternoon walks from now on, until there's no light for that either.

It's pink! It sparkles! It must be a pony book!

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The 1990s and early years of the 2000s saw many pony books leave behind the realistic covers of the 1950s and 1960s. A substantial proportion of those aimed at the younger reader were badged with pink and sparkles, and winsome straplines. Peter Clover's 1990s Sheltie series was a rare example of a series that succeeded through charm, not sparkles. “Could you,” asks the front covers of Sue Bentley’s Magic Ponies series, “be a little pony’s special friend?” Princess of pink, Katie Price, who first hit fame as the glamour model Jordan, has written (with a ghostwriter) the Perfect Ponies series (2007-2010). Emblazoned in pink and silver, it is about a group of four friends and their adventures at a riding school.



In a world which places so much emphasis now on how girls look, it’s sad to see the riding instructor continually praised because she "was living proof that you could be glam and still be a brilliant horsewoman." This is fair enough, but it is a pity if it is made a…

Morning walks, 17th & 18th September 2012

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Rooks flying in to the stubble field:

and geese. I could hear them flying in long before I could see them. They're way too far away for me to get them without trespassing thoroughly. Last year I had to wade through them, there were so many.

Anne Bullen exhibition

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Get there quickly. It's not on long.


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I'm doing an offer at the moment - five pony paperbacks, including postage, for:

UK - £6.00
Europe - £11.00
USA/Canada - £12.50
Australia - £13.00

For ease, all the photos are on my Facebook Page.You can look at it without being a member, and the easiest way to order is to contact me there. If you email me separately, or via here, I will do my best to co-ordinate with what's going on on the Facebook page, but can't guarantee it.

Here's some of what's on offer:






First catch your unicorn: the pony book and fantasy

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The pony book has often nodded towards what was going on in the children’s book genre as a whole; adventure in the 1950s, realism in the 1970s, and from the 1990s, fantasy. In 1997, J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. It was an astounding success, and spawned a host of fantasy-themed children's literature. The pony book, an essentially practical genre, is not perhaps the most natural of allies for fantasy, but this did not stop publishers eager to jump on the bandwagon. Pony author after pony author leaped, with sometimes miserable results, into the fantastic.

Elizabeth Lindsay’s Magic Pony series (12 books, 1997-2006), the story of a miniature magical pony, was the first, but by no means the last. It was aimed at a rather younger reader than pony books of previous decades. Most of the pony book fantasies were. Linda Chapman wrote several series on Unicorns. Prolific author Jenny Oldfield wrote the My Magical Pony series (2005-2007); Sue Bentley th…

Morning walk, 14th September 2012

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Morning walk, 13th September 2012

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Review: Angela Dorsey - Whinnies on the Wind series

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Angela Dorsey: Whinnies on the Wind series
Winter of the Crystal Dances
Spring of the Poacher's Moon
Summer of Wild Hearts

All published by Enchanted Pony Books at £6.99 in pb, £2.01 Kindle

Thank you to the author for sending me copies of these books.



I have to admit I'm not struck by the name of this series, but if you aren't either, don't let that put you off. These are cracking reads. They're located in the Canadian north, where Evy lives with her mother. They live a life of almost total isolation, occasionally seeing their neighbours, who live a ride away, and who have a daughter, Kestrel, who is Evy's friend: in fact her only friend, as school is something that happens remotely . And they occasionally see Evy's mother's agent (she's a painter) and that's it. They live in a cabin, and life is, by urban standards, primitive. Quite why the family live such a cut off existence is the major unanswered question of the series.


I like a story set somewh…

Morning walk, 12th September 2012

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Early morning light in the churchyard, and through the church porch windows.



Morning walks, 10th and 11th September 2012

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10th September



11th September


Dogs are wondering why I am faffing about sweeping the front steps instead of letting them in. I never sweep the front steps. I just swear at the gravel that jams itself under the gate and carry on. I am sweeping the steps because the house is on the market, and I have read all that stuff about first impressions.

And the next one is... Pony Books in the 1990s

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Disapproval of pony books by critics of children's fiction may have had an impact on the British market, but it certainly didn't in America. British librarians tended to view pony fiction as elitist and outmoded: American librarians saw it as a way of hooking in readers. Terri A Wear wrote Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography in 1987 specially for American librarians wondering which horse books to recommend to their horse mad readers.

Whatever the British educational and literary establishments thought, girls still loved ponies, and they still wanted to read about them. Publishers wanted to feed this habit, and there were ready-made solutions in America. Series fiction had long had a strong hold on the American market, with organisations like the Stratemeyer Syndicate developing ideas for series and then getting them produced by teams of authors, thereby ensuring continuity, and length. The average author is probably going to be heartily sick of their characters after a f…