Saturday, 5 January 2008

Review: JOSEPHINE - Pony Club Trek

Pony Club Trek is the last book in the Woodbury Pony Club series.

It was first published in 1985, but the picture to the right shows the Dean compilation which was first published in 1994.

The blurb reads:-

The members of the Woodbury Pony club are busy preparing for a three-day trek over the beautiful, rolling Downs. Before they have gone too far disaster strikes, for Oliver falls off at the gallop, and Tiger escapes over the hill, reins and stirrups flying. But this is only the first of a series of incidents that lead to a dramatic struggle to save a pony's life.

As for illustrations, there is a quick map on the first page. This map is not credited and there are no more further illustrations. 

A couple of things; not the entire pony club are going trekking over the Downs. Some minor characters are mentioned in the beginning, this focuses on the main characters.

Like Pony Club Challenge, there are changes afoot. Tina's and Sebastian's parents have now married, meaning that for once Tina's mother is not a single parent. Tina is now fully mounted; through a series of events that are mentioned in Pony Club Challenge, Sarah did not get on with Bowie and has a new pony called Sparkler.

The story begins with a lot of the members turning up for a rally, and practising for possible inclusion at the Horse of the Year Show held in (at the time) Wembley. As for various reasons (ponies too big is one, as James rides a 15.1hh gelding, his horse's height alone would automatically disqualify him, never mind the fact that smaller ponies are better for mounted games) some members prove unsuitable, David suggests that the others do a trek. So that leaves the main characters.

A lot of it is dealt with the practicalities of the trek; Harry's stepfather gets extremely involved as he sets clues for them to follow (a sort of treasure hunt) throughout the trek. Mrs Rooke is still favouring Sarah; as she is in the mounted games team, she joins them with her new pony Sparkler.

Aside from the treasure hunt side of things, there are plenty of thrills and spills galore. You do have to wonder why (apart from the evening) there was no adults in the actual trek; Diana's Ponies on The Trail deals with a similar theme (the only difference is that people are paying to go trekking) and there was an adult present. Ponies on the Trail was only written 7 years before.

It's nice to see the members outside the actual pony club setting, this feels like it is continuing on the teamwork theme of last week's book. The fact that they are spilt into 2 teams makes it interesting, and although the actual mounted games team is more competitive, it does actual make competitive spirit a sub plot to this book.

Although it stands out as a good book, and a good addition to the series, I dont feel that it makes a satisfactory ending. I feel that there was a lot more could have been done with the continuation of the series. Did Tina's mum and Seb's dad marriage last? Did Tina and Seb get on after a while? Did the Woodbury mounted games team reach Wembley? Did they have anything more to do with Cranford Vale? What happened after the trek? So many, many questions that have yet to be answered. (If anyone else has any theories, please let me know)

Personally, I am very disappointed with the ending. It's too abrupt and leaves a taste in your mouth. Not a nasty one, but you feel something is missing. Like a chocolate cake without any chocolate. That kinda thing.


Fiona said...

I love the series and i think this is my favourite.I love the characters; especially the Rooks and Wheelers.
Rupert has such a good & bizarre sense of humour.
Mrs Rook is really awful, but who in the horse/pony world hasn't met someone like her? I especially enjoyed the fact that Leslie gets some praise from David and she emerges as the strongest and most able of the sisters. Another book updating the characters is needed, perhaps showing Mrs Rook & Sarah being hauled over the coals?!