PBOTD 3rd July: Christine Pullein-Thompson - I Rode a Winner

I Rode a Winner is probably my favourite Christine Pullein-Thompson. She does a really good job of getting into heroine Debbie's psyche, and showing what it's like to be a teenager in the middle of a family break up, when nobody much seems to want you. Debbie, as so many other children did and still do, needs something to love, and that something is the difficult mare Cleo she meets when she goes to stay with her brother and his wife at their schooling yard.

Armada, 1973

One thing I liked about this book, and this perhaps ties in with all the discussion there's been recently on whether children's books should have happy endings, is that Debbie doesn't get the horse. Cleo has to be sold, and Debbie manages to let her go. It's not really true to say it's an unhappy ending: there are elements of unhappiness, but also resolution and hope for the future.

Sadly the book has not always been well-served by its covers. I love the original Armada, printed in 1973, which I had. There's a pretty average later printing with a photographic cover, a Severn hardback which has a rather pretty mare, though it's a pity they didn't choose a picture where she has her ears forward. Perhaps they wanted to portray Cleo's bolshiness. The last printing was by Cavalier, and then there's the one below, which is another CBC effort, with a spooky ghost horse with a halo.

Children's Book Club

Severn House


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