Sunday, 20 April 2008

Review: JOSEPHINE - The Trick Jumpers

The Trick Jumpers is this week's book. It was first published in 1958.

The edition shown is the Collins Pony Library edition, which does not contain a blurb. However Jane Badger has kindly supplied one, taken from the first edition.  It is not illustrated. 

A pony story which has an amusing and original theme. The Trelawnys, an unconventional and artistic family, come to live at Cudleigh, where local pony matters are dominated by the inartistic and ultra-horsey Hendersons. It is not long before the two families cross swords: Benedict, Jasper and Nicolette Trelawny know their riding is far from perfect, but they do not enjoy being told so by Peter and Erica Henderson! Things come to a head when the Trelawnys plan a trick-jumping act for the Cudleigh Horticultural Show, and the enmity between the two families continues until the very day of the Show itself..... The author's outstanding talent for characterisation makes this a pony story with a difference.

This is the book that is unique. If there was a category for banned pony books, this would fall in it. You either love or hate it. It is highly doubtful that today this book would get published, nor even republished. If you are a stickler for safety then this is not for you.

The book starts with the local people criticising the new people and their house: it seems a bit Enid Blytonish to me and certainly prejudiced. Because of this, and their criticism of lack of riding ability, they are soon forced to take part in a musical ride. This is unsuccessful, because of the (lack of) riding standard and they decide to do a "stunt team". The rest of the book is taken up with practising for the stunt team, and (mis)fortunes.

Like I said before, it is either one you love or hate. The idea of a stunt team is not that bad, just that you cant see it happening today. The bit I hate is that is in the beginning and the characters. Yes, we all have people we hate or dislike, but to me there is some downright nasty bits. This to me spoils it in some parts an otherwise good book, I am torn.

I am torn because there are some good parts to this book, but the downright nasty (and sometimes petty) squabbles spoil it. Diana was the one for writing more people and relationships, I can only assume that Josephine put the tension there to prove that just horses are about, doesnt mean that people get on. Maybe it is due to people that is not Josephine's forte, it's something Diana would be better at.

So really, the best judge is you. It's hard to define this book really. There are good and bad parts to all books, this one is certainly different. Fortunately it is not a hard to find book, and the best thing is really to see it for yourself. Provided you arent a stickler for health and safety that is.


Claire said...

A bit behind with the comment but with all the probs with my website and laptop I havent got round to reading your blog!
I am one of those who love the book. Reading it as a child, the health and safety aspect of it went over my head. I would never have dreamed of doing it myself. In a way the trick jumping was an almost fantasy element in the book. You couldnt really see it happening in reality any more than you could see a bunch of kids and a dog solving a load of crimes as in the Famous Five series. So perhaps not a realistic pony book. But its strength, seen in so many of the P-T's books, was the story of hopeless riders setting out to improve themselves and emerging victorious over the more experienced but complacent (and usually unpleasant) rivals.

sharie said...

I loved this! I can remember me and my friends trying to recreate some of the jumps for our own ponies (not the fire one!). Loved the storyline.