Saturday, 11 February 2012

Review: CHRISTINE - The Best Pony For Me!

The Best Pony For Me! is the second book in the Sophy series. It was first published in 1995, making it one of the last books she wrote.

Because of the short nature of the series (there are only about 46 pages) and the fact it is aimed at young children than most of Christine's books, there is a great difficulty in reviewing this book without giving away the story.

The blurb reads:-

When Sophie hears about the Horse Show, she begs to be allowed to ride Honey Bee, the best pony in the riding school. But instead of Honey Bee she is given a dull old plodder called Mousie. Sophie desperately wants to win first prize - but how can Mousie ever help her to achieve her dream?

Again, like The Doping Affair (to be covered at a later date), there is a spelling mistake, the blurb spells it Sophie, however for the rest of the series and internally, this book is spelt Sophy. This is the hardback edition, I do not know if it was correct for the paperback edition.

But anyway back to the story. To be honest, I much preffered this to I Want That Pony! It begins to show a little bit more of a human side, and less cardboard cut out  person. Though there are still limitations due to the short nature of the book, so we still don't see a great deal of depth to the characters. We are introduced to Claire, Sophy's enemy, and we get to see Mrs Mills, an riding school owner, both of which appear in subsequent books. Tabby, a kitten who we were introduced to in the previous book has now grown up to become a cat, proving that is there some sort of time line in the books, which the Candy series was lacking.

To be honest, there is a moralistic side to this tale. Sophy wins through because she puts in the practice and has determination. Which is I feel is what Christine is trying to portray. I feel as though she is making a good effort, but to be honest the "always be good" attitude is side tracking from this book. I dont feel it is strictly necessary, and to be honest is not included in her earlier books. In some ways it could be considered preaching, and preaching is not something which is great in a pony book. It doesnt stick in the back of your throat like The Boy Who Came To Stay (DPT) does, but it is not a great quality in a pony book. But DPT was after all, writing for a religious publisher.

I don't think this is Christine's greatest series. I think this was sold on the fact "because it's CPT and her books always sell" rather than it's merit. But after all, it is a brave effort because in the St James Guide To Children's  Writers (1999; fifth edition) she did admit that she felt out of touch with teenagers and that is why she wrote for younger children in her latter years. Rather than admit defeat and stop writing she simply changed her format. Which proved that CPT knew her market well, and hence we have these books today.

The book is illustrated. It is illustrated by Peter Clover, and an example of an illustration is below. In the book there is a mixture of black and white illustrations.