The true story of a pony bought almost too weak to walk, but who blossomed into a
new career as a show horse. There is a mystery about her earlier life, and two people
in her life who know more than they’re telling, but at last the truth comes out.
Rosina and Son Evans Bros, London, 1956, illus Marcia Lane Foster
White Lion, 1976, hb
“This is the story of Rosina's foal, who "looked as if he'd been
dipped in cream", and of the adventures that befell him when his mother was working
in a circus. Two children, Robin and Jean, on a camping holiday with their mother
beside a loch, first see Rosina and son on a small island in the middle of the loch.
Later they meet Tex who owns Rosina and help him to rear the little foal and break
it in to the halter. Tex explains that the circus for which he works has no winter
quarters to which to go to, and thechildren's mother agrees to let the circus folk
stay at her own farm. From then onwards the children are inseparable from Rosina and
her foal whom they christen Bud.”
Kitty Barne (1883-1957) is probably best known now for her Rosina Copper books, but
she won the Carnegie Prize in 1940 for Visitors for London. Rosina Copper, and its
successor, Rosina and Son, are true stories about a chestnut mare rescued from neglect.
It turns out that Rosina is an Argentine polo pony (and a very good one) who fell
on hard times.
The illustrator Ruth Gervais illustrated some of Kitty Barne’s books (though not
her horse titles: these were done rather well by Alfons Purtscher and Marcia Lane
Foster), and she said of her:
"To an illustrator, Kitty Barne was a most delightful author, not because she gave
one a free hand, far from it, but because she knew exactly what she wanted and was
so delighted when one caught her visual images. It was a true collaboration of author
and artist. We would meet and then, her good ear towards me, her eyes shining, her
face alive with interest, she would discuss her characters. I used to make dozens
of quick sketches until I got them as she pictured them, helped by her interjections,
`Oh, rather a higher forehead and even deeper set eyes` or 'oh, no you've made her
far too nice, I think she is a horrid little girl.' We would laugh together over
her amusing adults as she suggested incidents for me to sketch which would bring
out their characteristics." (from Chosen for Children, 1977)
Kitty Barne was born
in Sussex, and studied at the Royal College of Music (several of her children’s books
have a musical theme). She married Captain Eric Streatfeild, and was cousin-in-law
to Noel Streatfeild, author of Ballet Shoes. Kitty Barne died in 1957 after a stroke.
Finding the books: both pony titles are easy to find, and not generally expensive.