Saturday, 17 November 2007

Review: DIANA - Ponies On The Trail

Ponies on the Trail is this week's book and is the continuation of the Sandy and Fergie series. It was first published in 1978 and like many books of the time, the first edition was a paperback. However, Severn House decided to republish it in hard back, and the photo (right) is the hardback edition.

The blurb reads:-

"An adventure holiday", said Jake. "That's what I've planned. And you two will help me run it. We'll take a dozen riders for six days, and provide them with a pony, food, equipment - the lot. And we'll sleep in old shepherds' huts up in the hills."

"Brilliant!" cried Fergie. "Mimosa and Silverstar will love it."

But the riders turn out to be a very odd bunch indeed - and Sandy and Fergie find themselves heading for a week full of mystery and excitement...

Unlike that week's (and the previous one in the series) book, this book has more of a horsey plot. As stated, the book is about them going off and doing an (give or take) week long trek. The overview is that they turn out to be beginners (with 2 exceptions), and of course beginners give any pony book author a fair more deal to write about than experienced people. In fact, this quote tells you a lot about the sort of people they were:-

The photograph showed a blonde girl with a slightly tip-tilted nose sitting on a beach in a bikini. Her skin was golden as honey and her eyes grape hyacinth blue. It was the sort of picture you might expect to find on the cover of the magazine.

"Crumbs!" cried Fergie. "She looks like Miss World."

Trust men to think of that. The mix of ages, also make it interesting, and a lot of the book is taken up with the dynamics of the group, which also an unusual angle for a pony book. But dont let that put you off.

It's full of thrills and spills. The descriptive style of Diana never makes it dull, where this could be. There's almost an adventure on every page. It doesn't have a big event, just the backdrop of the trek and lots of small ones. But they fit together beautifully.

Interestingly, very much like the book Cassidy In Danger/This Pony is Dangerous, there is a reference to a relative of theirs; May Wedderburn Cannan. May (Wedderburn) Cannan was their mother's sister, and curiously, Wedderburn is one of Josephine's middle names. May died some 5 years prior to this book being published.

A good continuation of the series, and although it isn't as solid is the Ponies in the Valley it is a worthy sequel. A book that doesn't come up as often as Diana's other books, but not a very expensive one.


haffyfan said...

I love this series of books....The characters were very well developed and more importantly were likeable, which a good many pony book characters arn't. I always found Jinny an unlikeable character, although I liked the books, she would not have been my cup of tea as a friend. No warmth or consideration for others, just me, me, me.
Sandy and Fergus were normal down to earth kids doing normal things (like the fight Fergus got into). Jake was a good charcater these as an adult I found myself picturing Jake in my head as Mark Rashid, although at the time of writing he would have been unknown. But Diana gave Jake the same 'gift' of communication with horses as he has hence the connection in my head...I wonder if he was based on anyone she knew?

pullein-thompson-archive said...

I love these two. Aside from the fact I can identify myself more than other books written by Diana, I vastly prefer these over Diana's two series. Dont get me wrong I love them, but these are much more forfilling.

I dont know if Diana knew anyone in real life, but I bet most authors base their characters on people they know (or have known). The same goes with their ponies. So I wouldnt be surprised if he exists.