Monday, 5 May 2008

Review: JOSEPHINE - The No-Good Pony

The No-Good Pony is this week's book. It was first published in 1981.

The blurb reads:-

It was never going to work. The Brodie children disliked the Dalton children at first sight. The Daltons were smooth and elegant, their ponies well schooled and their tack immaculate. The Brodies always looked a mess, their tack was falling apart and they did not even have a pony each.

But now that Mr Dalton had married Mrs Brodie, the children were all going to live together. The holidays would be ruined, and even riding would not be fun any longer with the Daltons about...

Unlike most of Josephine other books, this isnt quite so heavily on the instructional front, I guess this was a sign of changing times, as the main books she wrote during the 1980s where the Moors series, which were more adventure style than instructional. The only exception seems to be her Woodbury Pony Club stories which revert back to that.

It is also a reflection of modern times that this story is a culmination of 2 different families: most pony stories follow a set pattern of mum, dad (even if he is rarely seen or mentioned) and anything from 2-6 children. There is also an au pair in this story: something which has changed, as pony stories until the 1970s, had either helps, servants or maids (depending on the story and whether the edition had been revised or not), but never au pairs (Diana's Only A Pony, also published during the 1980s, had an au pair though, but that has a weird time frame - see the post concerned for further information).

The No-Good pony, referred to in the title is actually referred to a pony called Treacle, a pony which appears to be no good at anything because her jumping is no good, and her dressage isnt much better. But at the end of the story, she isnt no good, she has other talents which make her just as useful (and valuable - not money terms anyway) as the Dalton's immaculate ponies.

It is an easy enough tale, which is quite readable, and unlike the other pony stories things dont go right. Josephine has tackled the subject of what happens when two families come together, a subject also briefly mentioned in the Woodbury Pony Club series, but dealt with in more detail. Whereas with the Woodbury Pony Club series the focus is on the ponies, here it is equally about the children and the ponies.

There is an interesting twist in the end, which makes it more sound Diana's Pony Seeker's series (also published in the 1980s) though.

I like this book, though it's title is pretty uninspiring, and perhaps not the one that grabs you in a list of Josephine's books. Although it may not appeal to every single child out there because of it's people element, it is nevertheless a good book, which is often overlooked.


Jane said...

I like this one. I think the families and their tensions are well done and it's all very believable. Like you, I think it's one that is often overlooked.

sharie said...

Another I remember. I always liked the believable relationships within the family as well as the storyline. Nice review