Saturday, 3 November 2007

Review: DIANA - Cassidy In Danger/This Pony Is Dangerous

Cassidy In Danger is this week's book. It was first published in 1979, but in the 1990s, J A Allen republished it as This Pony Is Dangerous.

The blurb reads:-

'Cassidy's vicious - he's a killer', they all said. 'He'll have to be destroyed.'

But left to her own devices for the holidays, Katie determines to save the beautiful bay pony. Can she succeed? And if she does, will she ever be able to make him safe to ride?

If anyone is unfamilar with the J A Allen editions of the P-T books, approximately 3/4ers of the back is taken with information about the author. Hence why it is so short. But it can be useful though, it wasnt until I got hold of a J A Allen edition that I found out that the P-T sisters had a brother, who is of course Denis Cannan. There is no mention of him on this edition though.

Dangerous ponies seem to be a thing that Diana likes: it is not the first time she had written about a supposedly dangerous pony. After all that is what A Pony To School is about.

The book starts with Katie, the main character of the story, being sent to her godmother's house and her joys of getting there. Interestingly, there is an reference to Georgette Heyer, a friend of her mother's.

Katie, after discovering that the local riding school charges £4 an hour for riding lessons (she was only left with £10) feels rather alone and that is when she discovers Cassidy. She also discovers later from her godmother why Cassidy is deemed dangerous, but like most books, it makes it sound like the previous rider's fault. Left to her own devices a lot, she makes friends with Cassidy, and ensures that he will be saved. Consequently, she spends her spare time with Cassidy, and meets a neighbour called Matthew (another reused name, it was in The Hermit's Horse there was a boy called Matthew). They become good friends, and makes a good additional character. She rides Cassidy, and tries to retrain him.

There is a time when Cassidy almost loses his life, but like all good books he gets saved. In some ways it has elements of Christine's Phantom Horse In Danger, but this book was published a year before Phantom Horse in Danger, so I guess it must be a twin thing. They say that twins are psychically linked after all.

Whether Cassidy continues to be dangerous or is really dangerous isnt really answered by the book, unlike A Pony To School the answer is never really given. It's up to the reader whether or not they want to believe it. But the main thing that Cassidy isnt put to his death, and presumably, he lives until an old age. Pony books never really deal with that.

It's a little bit dated that they refer to 1980s bands/artists. As J A Allen decided to revise this book, I feel that they should have re jigged a little bit by saying "the latest bands", or something along those lines. I feel that it isn't as strong as compared to A Pony To School on the dangerous front, but it's more appealing to today's people who are more used to being fed a diet of Heartland or similar junk. In some ways, this is better than A Pony To School. But it's more appealing to most people, and less old fashioned. But it is a good book, and not one that is hard to find.

Many thanks to Jane Badger for the scan of Cassidy In Danger.


Jane said...

I quite liked this book - it didn't make a huge impression on me, probably because I was reading it at a million miles an hour and so probably missed some of its subleties. You're right with Diana liking dangerous ponies: in their Fair Girls and Grey Horses they do say they became known for being able to sort ponies out.

As far as ponies dying: there's Pamela MacGregor Morris's Lucky Purchase, in which the main character's pony dies.

jayshah said...

On the whole I enjoyed this story too, though I absolutely cannot believe no one had ever recognised Katie's other, longterm problem (apart from the pony). She must have had to do written schoolwork at some point, so whatever the failings of the school system someone would have noticed she was illiterate! Except for that jarring note, I thought the tale was much better than 'Phantom Horse in Danger', but then I'm afraid nowadays I don't get on with CPT's writing style at all.

pullein-thompson-archive said...

jayshah, you are right about them not sorting out Katie's other problem. But it is something that is not always recognised, even today.

I have what is known as a "nonverbal learning disorder", and it was only discovered a couple of years ago. I went through my school years (even though I had a very good attendance record) without anyone picking it up. Combined with Katie's lack of consistency with schools, by the time people picked it up, her mother probably whisked her away. Thankfully schools are better in picking things up than when I was in school (and better than when this book was first written), but still people these days fall through the system.
There are still people these days who do not have the same "disabilities" as me or Katie, who cannot read or write when they have left school. But you are right, it does make you think.