Saturday, 27 October 2007

Some P-T/blog related thoughts

I have had some fruitful pony book parcels this week. I managed to acquire (many thanks to bevi who put me on the right track) the edition of the Black Beauty's Family which has that elusive Black Raven in.

Which got me thinking. As I was sitting on my bed last night, after helping Jane (of Jane Badger books) with her soon to be published Christine section, that how long it would take to get through every single P-T books I have (including those I have left on my wish list). So I started to write it all out. 104 books. Which means, that taking into account, that I am only doing one book a week, that it will take 2 years (since there are 52 weeks in a year). That is a long time, and I bet by the time it is finished, things will move on in my life. Of course, most of Christine's later books are for a younger age groups than most of hers, so that wont take as long to do, but it's one commitment. I just hope that I manage to find all the ones that are on my want list. I suspect that The Horse Sale will be the hardest, since I am after that lovely edition that Sheila Rose did the cover for (blue background), which is harder to find, than other edition of the same book. I must admit that I do prefer illustrated covers over photographic covers of books, illustrations seem timeless and have a certain charm. I had a look at my local county library's website, and they do have 20 P-T books, and fortunately one of them is on my want list, so hopefully I can request it if I am desperate (since it is not located at my local or the main library). Though sadly, with the exception of Fair Girls and Grey Horses, they do not have any of the author's adult titles.

I also managed to get hold of my last wanted Joanna Cannan book: They Bought Her A Pony. Which means now that I have all the Joanna Cannan pony books. I have not read any of her other non pony related titles, as again, like her daughter's adult works, my local library does not stock any (and there are none in the county, the nearest I got was May Cannan).

But it got me thinking: once about 2 years down the line: should I do Joanna? As it says on my first post, this is mainly about the P-T's. Sometimes, kind of like today, I will go off track and stray away from the P-T's but this will always be pony book related (and yes, shock horror!! I do have other pony books which arent by the sisters). But I think Joanna does have a rightful place here: if she was not born, then we would not have the P-T's. Also if it wasnt for Joanna encouraging them and the sisters seeing her writing throughout their childhood (had their mother been a housewife, then maybe we wouldnt have the lovely books we have today), then they would not have been tempted to start what is obviously a very successful and fruitful career, both for themselves and pony book sellers alike. I doubt that one pony book seller has not had at least 1 P-T book pass through their hands. I am sure Jane has plenty in her stock room!! Also, Vanessa at Fidra has definitely reprinted 2 of Joanna's works and Josephine's Six Ponies, if there wasnt a demand for P-T/Joanna Cannan books, then she wouldnt go down that route.

It als0 got me thinking: what is the most expensive pony fictional book (not just P-T books)? Previously, I would have said that Primrose Cumming's Silver Snaffles was the most expensive, being such a hard to find book in the first place, and definitely commanding a high price. However with the soon to be released Fidra books edition coming out, and for the maximum price of £15, I bet a lot of people will be going for that. Great if you are a buyer (myself included: I have ordered a copy), I suppose it is horrible if you are a bookseller. What was a nice little earner is probably sitting longer unsold than it did before, though there are some purists who want the original edition (and have the money for it!). I dont know the answer: the most I spent on a single book was £45 on an Caroline Akrill hb edition of I'd Rather Not Gallop (and it is signed to boot).

Anyway, here is my want list, if anyone is interested. I have not included titles which I have already and want to replace with certain editions, I'll leave that until later, as it is not something I am desperate for. If you have any of these, please let me know. Just one thing: I am not interested in hardback editions of books which are missing their dustjacket: I cant stand that. Though of course, if it is something with a pictorial cover (such as the Collins Pony Library series), I'll make an exception. Like I previously said, I prefer illustrated over photographic covers.

Josephine Pullein-Thompson

# Proud Riders
# Save The Ponies!

To make matters worse, there is an book also called Save The Ponies by Gillian Baxter as well as Josephine. They arent the same book: Gillian's was published in 1971, whereas Josephine's was published in 1983. You would think that the publishers would check there hasnt been a book with the same title, considering Gillian's was only published 12 years before. Anyway, I am definitely not after the Gillian Baxter edition.

Christine Pullein-Thompson

# A Pony In Distress
# Incredible Pony Tales
# Little Black Pony
# Magical Pony Tales
# Ponies In The Blizzard
# Ponies In The Forest
# Ponies In The Park
# The Best Pony For Me! (am now waiting for this one, but I dont count it being off the want list until it is physically in my hands)

Review: DIANA - A Pony Found

A Pony Found is the last in the "Pony Seekers" series and was first published in 1983. It is not illustrated.

The blurb reads:-

Lynne, David and Briony Fletcher loved horses, and everything to do with them, more than anything else in the world. That was why they founded the Pony Seekers in the first place. But sometimes the best intentions in the world can't make things go right. In the first twelve months, when Briony was cheated by experienced dealers and Lynne's beloved pony, Candy, fell ill, it seemed that everything was going wrong. And then, a miracle - the Pony Seekers were offered a yard of stables by a wealthy local man, and it seemed that their problems would be solved.

But Lynne, David and Briony soon discovered that even miracles have snags.

First of all I totally disagree with that blurb and I dont think it is well written. Ironically, it comes from the same publisher as my copy (Sparrow) of The Pony Seekers and they clearly say on the back Lynne and David Fletcher saw a terrible summer looming ahead. There would be no riding because their parents could no longer afford to keep ponies for them. Hence why the Pony Seekers were founded, and partially because Briony wanted to have a horse career, but could not face training horses after a tragic accident. But I apologise if you havent read the other 2 stories, because now some of the best bits in the first book has now been revealed.

Anyway, like it said things dont go right. Mirabelle, the daughter of the owner of the stables is a complete and utter pain, basically, she expects them to do everything as they arent paying for the cost of the stables. Her ambition is to go to Wembley, and she sacrifices her ponies for that, expecting Briony to get her the best. Again, like the other two books they seem to leap from one disaster to the next, but things turn out. Interestingly, Fred's character is revealed, and although tactless, is not the blot he is made out to be.

But, things do work out in the end, although there is a little bit of sadness that the Pony Seekers are no more.

But still it is a fitting end to what is a good series. It should satisfy most readers, and it comes to the end of my review of the series. Next week, a new Diana book.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Review: DIANA - A Foal For Candy

A Foal For Candy is the next instalment of the Pony Seekers series, first being published again like the previous book in 1981. It is not illustrated.

The blurb reads:-

'I reckon that cream mare is in foal.'

Fred's words rang in my ears as I walked down the lane. I dreamt of the beautiful foal that my favourite pony Candy would produce. Then a terrible thoughs crossed my mind. Perhaps we could not afford to keep a pony and foal through the winter months. It was more important than ever that my brother David and I should help to make the Pony Seekers agency a success...

As the title suggests, the storyline is obvious. (Candy is, btw, a pony, and not a person) But there is more going on than just the foal, and this follows the ups and downs of the pony selling business. They are still recovering from the illness that struck in the previous book The Pony Seekers and of course, Fred is seen as an unwelcome tactless blot in the storyline.

There is a good moral tale to this (seems to be a reoccurring theme in this series): always be aware when reading descriptions. As Candy is pregnant, they decide to buy a Dartmoor mare believed to be in foal to a famous stallion. Later that proves to be untrue, and that is when it is pointed out.

Unlike the previous book, there is a good fortune at the end, so it looks like things are going right for once.

I like this book, unlike some books, the sequel can be poor. But this one isnt, and again, appeals to most people. It has the usual flair and style we know of Diana, and if you like the first one in the series, then you will definitely like this one.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Review: DIANA - The Pony Seekers

The Pony Seekers is one of Diana's last pony books, and is the last series she did. It was first published in 1981. It is not illustrated.

The blurb reads:-

The Pony Seekers Care. We will find you the ideal pony for your needs and also a new home for your old pony. Personal attention and expert advice. Contact: Briony Fletcher, Blackwood Farm, Dickensfield, Knitts End, Glos.

Lynne and David Fletcher saw a terrible summer looming ahead. There would be no riding because their parents could no longer afford to keep ponies for them. But the situation is saved when their elder sister Briony, a famous show jumper, decided to enlist their help to set up The Pony Seekers - an agency that guarantees to supply clients with ponies suited to their needs. All goes well with the first few ponies but then disaster strikes and Lynne and David realise that they must do something desperate if Briony's enterprise is not to be ruined...

This story (and series) is basically about pony dealing. Only Briony doesnt call herself a dealer because she is "rather more superior than that, more caring". It tells of fate and fortune, problems that dealers do to cover things up, and the hard way of things that go wrong.

It is a good book and a good series, but some degree of morality to the tale, that you should always get it vet checked. An illness sweeps the yard causes by one of the ponies harbouring it, and if a vet check did occur then may be it wouldn't have happened. It is a tale of family enterprise and one that is full of adventure. Not thrilling adventure, but still. There is a blot on the landscape with a neighbour called Fred, some of his remarks are so cutting you feel like hitting him.

I like this series of books, and it should appeal to most people. The Pony Seekers is a good start to it, and has the usual style that we are accustomed to of Diana.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Review: DIANA - The Hermit's Horse

The Hermit's Horse is one of Diana's harder to find books, not being really republished, except for 10 years later. Again, it is another one which the first edition is a paperback. It was first published in 1974.

The blurb reads:-

Matthew and Sophie are forbidden to go near the neglected, ivy-clad old house. The hermit that lives there is said to be mad or dangerous. But the unexpected arrival of a big bay horse begins a strange friendship between the children and the man with the mysterious past.

ew hopes and happiness grows, especially with their plans for the Frinkley Horse Show. Then suddenly violence and fear strike! Can the hermit ever find peace now? And what is he afraid of? Will Matthew and his horse ever be able to prove themselves...?

Unlike most pony books, the emphasis is mainly on Matthew, which obviously is a boy.

This book is big on misconceptions, it is turns out the hermit is anything but mad, he just wants to be left alone. I suppose to an outside world, the friendship seems weird, considering the age gap, and if this was a modern world, he would be labelled a paedophile or something, definitely regarded with suspicion. But it proves that the unlikeliest of friendship can grow, and the added adventure of there being a horse is the most common factor.

It is also a tale of horse rescue and rehabilitation, since the horse was a rescue one. In a way, it is a story about rehabilitation of people too, as the hermit doesnt deal with the outside world, and what happens when he does. It is a quiet story, and often overlooked, but one of the best, as the hermit's character is really defined. The cover I feel lets it down, but I think this is one of Diana's gems, which has less publicity and generally less well known than her other books. If you can, I think you should read it.

Oh and some news about my want list. I have only got 2, possibly 3, Josephine books left on it to get. I say 3, because there is some doubt about whether Black Raven does exist. Certainly there is no sign of it on abebooks. Copac and the British Library dont have it in their records, however they are sometimes inaccurate as I know of a Christine P-T book which does not appear on there. It's never shown up on ebay either. Whatever, it is mighty strange. So if anyone does have it, please post. My Christine want list is down to 9 books now. Though I have yet to read all my P-T books. So once Diana is done (which should be by the end of the year, unless something goes wrong), Josephine is next one of the P-T's to be tackled.