Saturday, 26 September 2009

Review: CHRISTINE - Pony Parade

Pony Parade is another one that strictly does not fit the blog: it is an anthology. It contains a combination of non fiction and fiction stories/extracts. However, as it is one of the few anthologies I do have, I will include it.

One of these extracts is from their mother's book: A Pony For Jean. Considered by many to be one that defined the pony book genre, it is the archetypical pony story.

The second is an extract (and slightly humorous) about a show ring. Personally I found it ok, but if you aren't interested in that it can be boring.

The third is an short piece about choosing a (pony) name.

The fourth is about caring for a pony - not very interesting if you don't want a pony. Generally not out of date except for the odd mention of ton (as in weight) which most people use kilos these days and oats (which are seldom used these days).

The fifth and best part of this is a short Pony Patrol story. Because of this it has a Pony Patrol tag. That is, provided you like the Pony Patrol series. It is entitled Pony Patrol Ends A Racket.

The rest of the extracts are:- an poem about a rocking horse; about horse colours; strange pony actions; about horses in the First World War (by Diana, taken from Black Princess); about how a team trained for the Prince Phillip Cup; how to sit properly (by Josephine); pair driving; a poem about a pretend horse; about possibly curing rearers; a horse themed dictionary/definition; British ponies; how to draw horses; an article which features exploits of a sister trying to care for her sister's ponies - in letter form (by Christine); two poems about olden days horses; an article about a Przewalskii horse working down a coal mine; making a dressage arena (by Josephine); an "Did You Know" article; an article about horse doping in the show ring and finally an poem about an abandoned stable.

As far as anthologies go it isn't a bad one. The star turn is the brand new Pony Patrol story. However as far as anthologies go, they generally have a shortcoming: they never have the full story. As for this one, generally the only bit that lets it down is the bits about schooling/pony care, the pony mining article (there are no coal mines these days that use ponies) and the doping article. Mainly because security is so tight than compared to 1978 (which this was first published) and people today don't know who Harvey Smith is.

Still, it's not an expensive buy, and worth getting for the Pony Patrol story alone.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Review: CHRISTINE - Follyfoot Pony Quiz Book

I am going to break with tradition there: my blog is mainly for reviewing (and providing further information) about the P-T's (pony) fictional works.

However as I love Follyfoot, I bought this. I agonised over where or not to put this in the Christine section on the bookshelf or the Follyfoot section. I eventually decided on the Christine section and here's why :-

Firstly, and this is the main reason: there is very little Follyfoot in it. Granted Christine may not have had the time or the inclination to watch Follyfoot, but at least a brief outline of the main characters should have been sent to her. The only bits which are Follyfoot is the title, and the two pictures of Dora (the main character in the series) on the cover.

Granted, there are a couple of exceptions to that though. They are:-

Page 50. In each sentence there is an odd one out.

  • Number one is this: Monica Dickens, Mary O'Hara, Enid Bagnold, Esther Rantzen (Esther Rantzen is the odd one out btw, because the rest are pony authors).
  • Number 3 is this: Wish for A Pony, Alice In Wonderland, Follyfoot, I Wanted A Pony (Alice in Wonderland is the odd one out: the rest are pony books)
  • Number 12: Dora, Paul, Callie, Christine (Christine is technically the odd one out - but only just. Paul is a character mentioned in Cobbler's Dream and the first edition of Follyfoot, but the character is named Steve in the TV series. Both Dora and Callie are characters in the books and TV series)
Page 51. This is a true or false game; and the sole mention is number 5.

  • Monica Edwards wrote Follyfoot (False: it was Monica Dickens)

Page 52. Match up the name so "famous" people. One answer is Monica Dickens.

That is about it out of 81 puzzle and 5 crosswords. I feel much more could have been done to incorporate Follyfoot, for example there are tales of things going wrong, and the quiz part is to say what went wrong. I feel that in those situations it would have been best to incorporate the main Follyfoot characters. Also, the "true or false" quiz, it would have been nice to make it solely Follyfoot only.

However, when in 1974 (when this was first published) this was quite a decent book, if you forget the lack of Follyfoot element.

These days it is not. In some ways it is dated, because these days people who dont know who Pat Smythe, Marion Mould etc are. There are a lot of Follyfoot fans on the internet, and those who aren't interested in horse/pony care are liable to be bored.

So, if you are an Follyfoot fan, don't feel guilty about leaving this off your shelf. It's best (either from a P-T or a Follyfoot of view) as an set completer.

This also rather interestingly contains drawings by her daughter (Charlotte Popescu).

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Review: CHRISTINE - Little Black Pony

Little Black Pony is a book meant for younger readers, the same age group as the Sophy series. It is illustrated: by an Lynette Hemmant.

It is also hard to find, as is The Lost Cow (a non pony work) which has a similar cover and is in the same series & has the same publisher. However, I suspect this is due to the fact that it was purely meant for children's primary schools (as opposed to being available in all good book shops) because all copies that turn up are either ex-school or ex-library. The one pictured came from a school. I also remember at primary school reading a Hamish Hamilton Gazelle book (but not this one).

Because of the fact it is meant for younger children (Hamish Hamilton, the publishers say on the back it is a "complete story for the very young". It also does not contain a blurb, however, I have written one of my own.

It is a story about a family of 3 children. They hear a noise in the garden, which turns out to be a pony. They want to keep him, but what happens when they find the real owner?

It is an odd one to place. This book was originally published in 1967, and these says the formal tone and language used sounds rather stuffy and old fashioned. Consequently, because of it's short nature and it's hard to find availability, it is not popular with collectors. This makes it not very valuable, if you can get hold of it.

If you can get past the formal/stuffy nature of the book, it is not a bad short story. It still retains the quality of her other books, however it is a lot better in nature than the Sophy books (and far more realistic). The children and the pony are believable, though the ending is not, and it is nice to see a kind owner of an "lost" horse rather than a cruel one, which happens in some of Christine's later stories (A Pony In Distress for example.).

Spoiler: complete story.

The children are playing in the nursery when they hear a noise. They wonder what it is and look out: it is a pony. They rush down and tell their mother. She and their father get hold of the pony, and put it in the stable, which they conveniently have. The children want to keep it because they have no pets, and they always wanted one. The parents are not too sure: they buy some hay and straw, and call out the vet because it is sick. Fortunately it is not too sick. The next day, they trace the owner, who explains that it keeps on coming there because she used to live there. She says that they can keep it, because she has outgrown the pony. She has a new one and nobody rides it any more. She refuses the money the children's parents offer her.

It's an easy short story, that is perhaps not a delight, but a good read. It's just a shame that it is hard to place. It's hard to give a complete review, without giving away the full story, but I have included a short synopsis for those who want to know what it is about (highlight white space).