PBOTD: 19th February - Vian Smith, Martin Rides the Moor
Vian Smith is not the author to go to if you want comfortable and predictable pony adventure. His characters have difficult challenges to face. Today's pony book, Martin Rides the Moor has a hero who has gone deaf after an accident. His parents are worried about him, naturally enough, as he struggles to adapt to a new existence with only minimal sound. They buy him a Dartmoor pony, Tuppence, in the hope that giving him something to care for will help him.
|Constable Young Books, 1964, 1st edition|
At first, Martin wants nothing to do with the pony, and he remains closed in and determined in his resistance until he has to fight through the snow to rescue Tuppence. It isn't all plain sailing after that: Vian Smith has much more for his characters to go through, but the book is, ultimately, hopeful.
|Doubleday, New York, 1965|
Martin Rides the Moor was first published by Constable Young Books in 1964. I don't usually put American printings in the bibliographies in the PBOTDs, but I have here because the American edition is so much nicer than the English original. Vian Smith had much more critical and commercial success in America than he did in the UK. Perhaps it was the fact that his books were about horses, but still involved difficult themes that led to his lack of success in the UK. His books are not comfortable, girl-gets-pony, fiction, and not easy to pigeonhole. The horse book in America didn't suffer the same backlash from librarians that it did in the UK, which again perhaps helped this author's popularity.
|Constable, pb, 1974|
|Constable, pb, 1981|
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For more on Vian Smith and his books, see his page on my website.