Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Pony book compilations

Love 'em or Hate 'em?

Normally I steer well clear of these compilations as they generally tend to disappoint. More often than not they are full to the brim of excellent extracts by well known authors.

So what's the problem you can they disappoint?

Well when you've enjoyed Silver Snaffles in the complete version why an earth would you want to read just a chapter? I also feel for the poor souls who read the extract, desperately want more, only to find it's gonna cost them £40 plus to do so.....I know it's been re released and is much cheaper but it's still pricey.

Then on the other end of the scale are the ones, like the one pictured above, The Best Of Pony Club Stories. These are new (okay they did appear in annuals but over quite a long time span so i doubt unless an annual collector you would have them all) short stories but boy is there a reason they never got fully into print (IMO). On the whole they are rather poor, and apart from an excellent story Chop and Change by JPT, this one is no exception.

A very Silver Snaffles style tale, where ponies do the narrating and tell it from their perspective. It mainly concerns two ponies who are unhappy with their owners. They engineer a plan a swop but find the grass is not always greener. Beautifully written and so different from her usual makes the books and changes it from a don't do it to buy a copy, if only for this small delight. It also boasts an otherwise unobtainable story from the pen of Primrose Cumming, but quite frankly it's it can have come from the author of such greats as Silver Snaffles and The Wednesday Pony I'll never know.

Some are better than others of course and I fondly remember this one above from being at school ( I actually think apart from The Switch Horse it was the only pony book in the school library I didn't have at home) and again it has an otherwise (as far as I am aware) unavailable short story this time by DPT entitled........... However fondly remembering and reading are quite different and the stories were not quite as good as I remembered them bar the DPT.

Then of course there are the other compilations such as the Pullein-Thompson sisters contributions such as proud riders and a pony scrapbook. These are a mixture of stories, puzzles and factual articles on choosing and looking after a pony and were probably quite exciting as a youngster (mainly due to the puzzles) but quickly lose their appeal as you get older (not to mention date terribly!) Lots of oats being ate etc.

This is one I rather like, the cover and title are enough to put anyone off but the stories themself on the whole are actually okay. The author appeared to know her stuff and kept the stories simple and to the point. It is also novel in the fact that the author wrote all the stories herself, infact she has written several compilations to which she is the soul contributor although Molly and The Misfits is the only one I've read so far.

And there not all bad as this one proves, published by Pony magazine, it is extremely good. It features new stories by CPT and Patricia Leitch along with a host of other well written excellent stories and not an extract in sight! In fact I would go as far as to say there isn't a weak story in this lovely book.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Linda Craig

I have just been reading the Linda Craig (original) series and cannot believe how much I enjoyed them!

I vaguely remember having a few of these books when I was younger but cannot really remember ever reading them......I would imagine maybe the mystery element put me off as I liked 'pure' pony books by far the most. However having acquired one in a lot with some other books I decided to give them a go and was thoroughly hooked! I would liken them very much to Nancy Drew on horseback and until it was recently pointed out to me had no idea that they were a Stratemeyer Syndicate product, hence the similarity and irony of my comparison. So far I have read the first 10 of the 11 volumes in the original 'Mysteries' series with the elusive Scorpio so far eluding me. The first six titles were published by Doubleday & Company between 1962 and 1964. The series was reprinted in paperback between 1982 and 1984 when five additional titles were added.

In 1988, Simon & Schuster revived and revised the series in paperback. The original eleven volumes were dropped and twelve new titles were issued between 1988 and 1990, albeit sadly not in the UK. I currently am eagerly awaiting the arrival 7 of these titles from Stateside. From what I can gather although they main characters haven't changed it seems Linda may have a new equine partner.....but I will have to wait and see.

The Linda Craig Mysteries see 16 year old Linda Craig as our heroine. Recently orphaned, along with her 18 year old brother, Bob, she has come to live at Ranch Del Sol with her grandparents, Dona and Broncho. The first book, The Palomino Mystery, introduces the family and also tells of how Linda acquires Chica D'Oro, her palomino filly. This is where I had to keep reminding myself it was only a story as my blood did boil at several points due to a (I hope) blatant lack of equine knowledge. Chica was introduced as a 2 year old unbroken filly, who days later was doing full days trails and was beautifully trained!!! She proceeded to become a champion show horse in preceding books but as Linda never aged a day i assume she didn't either.....maybe rules are different in USA but I thought horses under 4 couldn't be shown under saddle? All very off the point but starting very young horses and expecting too much from youngsters (by this I mean any under age of maturity ie 7/8 years) is a personal pet hate and something I am strongly opposed to. However very much like Peter Grey's Kit Hunter books, when you get over this, what you are left with are well written and enjoyable stories. The First six are by far superior (IMO) and the last four become a little contrived and far fetched almost. I guess as with so amny other series of books overkill occured. I do hope that isn't the case with the 'Adventures' books. Only time will tell.

Although the books were little changed for the UK market as you can see from the pictures every trace of 'western' riding/theme was hidden on the covers of the UK books, although the internal pics showed Linda/Chica in full western tack/clothing. I am assuming the original dust wrappers would have made an English audience think they were buying a western?....but are far superior. The publishers also added a glossary, which i must admit is useful and a nice touch as there were several references to/terms completely alien to me.