Thursday, 31 July 2014

PBOTD 31st July: Marguerite Henry - Stormy, Misty's Foal

I love this cover too. For years, I thought Misty was actually called Stormy Misty, although I'd read the actual book more than enough times to know that wasn't the case.

Armada, 1968
This story was based on real-live events. When a hurricane struck in the 1960s, both Chincoteague and Assateague were evacuated. The ponies couldn't all be evacuated, so Grandpa Beebe brought them into the barn on top of their hay pile and put Misty, now in foal, inside the Beebe house and hoped for the
best. The Beebe ponies survived and Misty foaled safely but many of the Assateague herd perished in the storm.

Rand McNally, 1963
Internal illustration from the original
At the annual auction, some of the ponies are tagged as "Buy Backs". They are still put into the auction, but they return to the island to breed. The winning bidder gets to name the pony, and these Buy Back ponies sometimes achieve the highest auction prices. 

If you are a pony-loving American child who can't afford a pony, the Feather Fund helps deserving children buy a pony at the auction. Carollynn Suplee came to Chincoteague every year until her death in 2003 to help children buy ponies, and the Feather Fund was set up in her memory. 

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The Pony Penning and Swim
More on Marguerite Henry
The Feather Fund

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

PBOTD 30th July: Marguerite Henry - Misty of Chincoteague

Armada, whose coveres have been getting a bit of a psting from me over the past few days, did do some lovely ones too. I'm particularly fond of the ones they did for the Marguerite Henry titles they published (King of the Wind, Sea Star, Stormy - Misty's Foal, and Misty). The Armada version below is the one I had. I actually prefer the cover illustration to the Wesley Dennis original (heresy), though the Armada version did keep the black and white illustrations of the original.

The main point of the Misty stories is the annual Pony Penning and swim that takes place every year, when the ponies are swum from Assateague Island to the island of Chincoteague. In the few days before the swim, the ponies are gathered into corrals, and then swum over. They are then rested, and the foals go to auction. This is a fundraiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.

Collins, London, 1961

The swim has been going on for nearly ninety years, but it became well known when Marguerite Henry wrote about it in Misty of Chincoteague (1947). 

Endpapers of the hardback edition

The Beebe children, Paul and Maureen long for a pony of their own, and follow the wild mare Phantom, who has a foal, Misty. They rescue Phantom but have to let her go when she cannot settle. Misty, however, becomes the foundation of a line of ponies kept by the Beebes.

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The Pony Penning and Swim
More on Marguerite Henry

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

PBOTD 28th July : Josephine Pullein-Thompson - Pony Club Team

Today's PBOTD is the first of a (probably) brief series on the sort of book cover you hope your over-protective mother will never see: those in which the hero or heroine falls off. I would think this is a cover subject that's had its day, as the only cover you get these days is the photo cover, and I simply can't imagine a publisher wanting to navigate the shark-filled waters of health and safety necessary to get a shot of someone falling off. So, make the most of these (there will be a break in the next couple of days to accommodate a rather special event in the US equine calendar).

Josephine Pullein-Thompson did quite well for falls. Besides Christopher heading rapidly for earth on the cover of the 1970s printing of Pony Club Team, there's also a dramatic fall in the same era's Armada Six Ponies. Christopher's fall is quite dramatic. Fireworks is one of those ponies who has only to see a jumping pole to go completely beserk. He is not a novice ride, and Christopher, when we first see him, is a novice. He has some very dicey moments with Fireworks, but this is probably the best, because it happens when the Major's off out, and the Pony Club decide to do their own thing. Never to that, Pony Clubbers, because it will only lead to disaster. 

The book didn't start off focussing on the dark side: here's the first edition cover.

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Monday, 28 July 2014

Review: Olivia Tuffin – The Palomino Pony Comes Home

The child of a single parent family seems to be the go-to heroine of pony books today, and so it is for Georgia. Her father has left, and Georgia spends most of her time at a local stables. Her mum thought it would be a distraction, and it is. Ponies are Georgia’s whole world. She gets rides in exchange for helping out, because there isn’t enough money for riding lessons, let alone a pony of her own. Ponies are so very much Georgia’s world that revision for exams somehow doesn’t quite happen, and after she fails the end of year exams catastrophically, she’s sent off by the school for an intensive week away in Wales.

This works out rather better than Georgia thinks it will: firstly Dan Coleman is on the course too, and he turns out to be a lot nicer than she thought he was. And secondly, Georgia finds a beautiful palomino Welsh pony in a field. The pony is due to be sold, but Georgia persuades Melanie, the owner of the stables where she rides, to take a punt on the pony. She had been given to her breeder’s grand daughter, Jemma, but Jemma is both violent and vicious and the grandfather takes the pony back. After much drama, Melanie buys the pony.  Jemma is determined to get Lily, the pony, back, and Georgia is even more determined not to let her.

This is a nicely written story, with attractive characters and a plot which will not horrify its young readers with anything too dark or difficult, and certainly nothing unexpected. The plot proceeds exactly as you think it will. It’s a good, escapist summer read for the 11-12s -  there’s just enough romance to make the book exciting, but it’s not a book that I think will suit most teenagers. Georgia does read a very young fourteen.

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book

Olivia Tuffin: The Palomino Pony Comes Home
Nosy Crow, 2014: £5.99
Kindle £3.59, Kobo £4.91

Age of main character: 14
Themes: mistreatment of ponies (not too graphic), some romance

PBOTD 28th July: Mary Gervaise - The Secret of Pony Pass

PBOTD for 28th July is Mary Gervaise's The Secret of Pony Pass. This is the last in the G for Georgia series, and was published in 1965. I have been hammering Armada in recent posts for their covers, but the Armada reprint of this title isn't all that bad, by comparison. It's a relatively inoffensive photo cover, but the original by John Raynes is another of those hang on to the pony's mouth efforts.

In fact, it's one of those pictures where you can play spot the fault to your heart's content. No hat, for one thing, elbows out, stirrups way too short....

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More on Mary Gervaise

Sunday, 27 July 2014

PBOTD 27th July: Judith M Berrisford - Jackie and the Pony Boys

PBOTD for 27th July is another from the rich seam of duff Armada covers. It's Judith M Berrisford's Jackie and the Pony Boys. This cover is a particularly awful example of the backward seat - why Misty has her ears forward I simply do not know. Could there be any more weight dragging on that poor pony's mouth?

Hang on to that pony's mouth Jackie! Her ears are forward - she doesn't mind a bit!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

PBOTD 26th July: Christine Pullein-Thompson - Riders from Afar

The PBOTD for 26th July is Christine Pullein-Thompson's Riders From Afar. Originally published in 1954, this was one of Christine Pullein-Thompson's earlier books. It's set at a castle, lived in by a poverty-stricken family who are renting the castle to an American family for the summer to raise money. The children are not looking forward to this at all, but the Americans prove to be a pretty decent lot.

The original had one of Charlotte Hough's more wispy covers, but it suffered a little when it was reprinted in paperback by Armada. Armada's cover artists visited some pretty horrible riding efforts on the pony book reading public in the 1960s, and this is one of them. It's particularly ironic if you bear in mind how agin the backward seat the Pullein-Thompsons were.

As an image, I do like this cover: it has Mary Gernat's characteristic energy. It's just a shame about the backward seat. And I do wonder quite what happened next - did the pony recover and jump the five bar gate? Or was there a terrible kerfuffle as he slammed into it?

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More on Christine Pullein-Thompson
More on Mary Gernat