Ponies, ponies, ponies
Kathleen Mackenzie’s pony books are not generally as dripping with ponies as most books in the genre. She was more interested in families and their relationships than in ponies, not being a rider herself. The pony content of her books is still just about enough to keep the enthusiast interested. Kathleen Mackenzie is also notable for having some of the best and worst dustjackets in the pony book world: Jumping Jan reached the final in a poll on my forum for the best; Nigel Rides Away and the reprint of Prize Pony both did well in the worst dustjacket category.
Kathleen Mackenzie (1908–1993) was born in the Argentine, but returned to England when she was three. Her books often feature large families, for which she had plenty of models. Her father was one of ten, her mother one of 20, and she herself was one of eight (her sister, Violet Morgan, illustrated her books). She started writing when young, and was also interested in the stage, for which she wrote and produced plays. She and her family lived in Cornwall, where they put on pageants, and put on plays at the Minack Theatre.
Finding the books
Not as easy as it was when I started this website. Most of her books are still reasonably easy to find. Jumping Jan, Red Conker and Minda are becoming more expensive, particularly with their dustjackets. The Badgers of Quinion is virtually impossible. Vicky and the Pentires is very hard to find. Green Fox and The Four Pentires and Jimmy are both tricky to find with dustjackets.
Source and links
Dustjackets of her books
Kathleen Mackenzie’s family
Many thanks to Ivan Tammas for the photographs of The Badgers of Quinion and Four Pentires.
Evans,London. 1952, illus Violet Morgan, cover art Maurice Tulloch, 224 pp.
Reprinted 1955, 1958
Frances Pentire’s horse is badly injured at a local show. She finds a lost chestnut horse, and the Pentire
family and their friend Vicky manage to find the horse’s owner. Frances is allowed to ride Red Conker, but
they soon find someone else appreciates the horse’s qualities too, and is trying to get him by very
unscrupulous means. And then Red Conker’s owner disappears...
Evans, London, 1953, illus Maurice Tulloch, cover Maurice Tulloch, 188 pp.
Many thanks to Susan Bourgeau for the picture.
“This is the story of Minda Budge who, with her colt Crescent, joins a Pony Club started by three children and
proves to be easily the best rider among them. Unfortunately another young member of the Club, Jill, is jealous
of Minda and when she is chosen to represent the Club in the Area Competitions, Jill tries to keep Minda and
Crescent out of the event. The plot fails and Minda does well. Other exciting adventures follow and finally Minda
scores a great personal triumph in the Inter-
Evans, London, 1955, illus Violet Morgan, cover art Maurice Tulloch. 182 pp.
Janice Maddever wants to work with horses. Her first job is with the rich, unhappy Jervis family. Each of the
Jervis children needs help, and Jan is the one who provides it. Irving has been crippled by polio, and thinks he
will never ride again. Elaine wants to be a nurse, but dare not tell her snobbish mother this. Gary, a playwrite,
is the favourite, but he’s having problems writing and isn’t too fussy about where he gets his ideas. The last
child Sarah, is pretty but selfish. In the end Jan impresses more than just the Jervis family, and rides at
Three of a Kind
Evans, London, 1956, illus Violet Morgan. 190 pp.
Jenny, Janey and Ginny are triplets. Jenny is an excellent rider, and Ginny a fine actress. Janey is good at
both, but not outstanding. She though is the one who helps her sisters achieve their dreams. Near the Dane
triplets lives Mrs Comy and her daughter, Margaret. Mrs Comyn wants to have first class show horses, but
Margaret is too nervous to be able to ride for her, so Jenny has to ride and train Sir Peregrine. Horse and rider
do well. Meanwhile, Ginny has been given a part in a play. Ginny persuades Janey to take her place at an
audition when she can’t go, and Janey takes Jenny’s place riding Sir Peregrine to win at the Southern Counties
Chalk and Cheese
Evans, London, 1957, illus Violet Morgan. 189 pp.
“Widow Mrs. Sinclair gets a job at Diana Watson's riding stables, and her daughter Pippa goes too. Diana is
a hard mistress, but a friendly neighbour named Miss Winter helps the Sinclairs in their difficulties. When Diana
gets married the stables are sold and the Sinclairs lose their main source of income. But Miss Winter once
more comes to the rescue, and Mrs. Sinclair takes a large house where she looks after children whose parents
have gone abroad. Of course the children ride, and they all have exciting adventures, including the breaking in
by Pippa of a frisky horse bought by Miss Winter. Mrs. Sinclair has a fall, which necessitates a drastic operation,
but in the end everything ends happily.”
Nancy and the Carrs
Evans, London, 1958, illus Violet Morgan, cover art Anne Gordon. 192 pp.
Nancy Thompson, 15, is an orphan. She meetes the Carr family, and everything goes well at first. Unfortunately,
Nancy's aunt, with whom she lives, doesn’t approve of her affection for the Carrs, and she doesn’t understand her
love of horses and riding either. Besides horses, there is also plenty of the usual holiday sort of adventure: a robbery,
a theft, a chase over land and sea and a rescue.
Evans, London,1959, illus Violet Morgan, cover Anne Gordon. 191 pp.
Children’s Book Club, 1959
Many thanks to Heather of Peakirk Books for the picture of the first edition
and to Gillian Taylor for the picture of the reprint.
Tessa’s father is a poor vicar, and they live in London. Tessa is mad on horses, but her
circumstances mean she can’t do much about it. Then her parents go to stay in France,
and Tessa is sent to the country. When she enters a raffle in the village fete, she wins
a pony, and meets Diana, who is a champion jumper. There is the issue of how Tessa
will manage to keep the pony when she has to return to London, but then her father is
offered a country living, and everything works out.
Nigel Rides Away
Evans, London,1960, illus Violet Morgan, cover uncredited. 192 pp.
Nigel doesn’t get on with his cousin Alastair, and he is delighted when he manages to escape him, and go
camping with Hamish and Fiona. In order to get away, he has to pretend that he is going straight to his
grandmother (with whom he should be spending the whole of his holiday) and there are some anxious
moments at the railway station when his aunt and Alastair turn up to meet some friends of their own. Then
there is plenty of holiday adventure when he’s out with Hamish and Fiona, and in the end, Nigel is allowed to
live with his grandmother.
Pony and Trap
Evans, London,1962, illus Violet Morgan, cover uncredited. 192 pp.
“Tamsin and her brother John, who is recovering from a serious illness, are sent to spend a few months with their
grandmother in Cornwall. They manage to buy an old pony trap and hire a pony with which to explore the
surrounding countryside. Tamsin, who loves horses and riding, makes friends with Molly, the girl groom at the
stables of a retired Army colonel. The colonel owns a horse, Greenheart, who is entered for the Grand National,
and Tamsin, John and Molly discover a plot to injure the horse and its rider.”
Collins Magazine Annual Volume 2 1949, illus Artur Horowicz
A girl and her brother catch a wild pony and break it in entirely by themselves.
The Pony Club Book 13, William Heinemann Ltd in association with the Naldrett Press Ltd, 1962
illus Helen Collins.
Sally Brown feels herself a complete outsider at Pony Club
Pony Magazine Annual, 1963, illus Anne Bullen
Gillian meets a tiger in a quarry.
The Cave in the Cliff
Evans, London, 1961, illus Violet Morgan. 191 pp.
Children's Book Club, 1961
Two sisters go and stay with their aunt in France and meet adventure with smuggling,
burglaries and kidnapping. The pony content is pretty minimal in this book, but there is a little
(as you can see from the cover).
Evans, London, 1964, illus Violet Morgan. 176 pp.
Reprinted 1975, White Lion, 176 pp.
London girl Della has no interest in the country of horses, after a fall put her off. Then her parents have to go
abroad, and the only place Della can stay is with her horse-
with their horses they can barely even acknowledge her when she arrives. Della keeps a diary, having little else
to do until the village pageant provides a means to unite the family. Not only does Della take part in the pageant,
she also has to face her fear of horses when one of her cousins is seriously injured.
We Four and Sandy
Evans, London, 1947, 247 pp.
(NB: dj pictured is a homemade one cut out from the original and stuck to brown paper)
The Pentire girls go on a holiday with Uncle Percy, in a horse-
The Four Pentires and Jimmy
W G Harrap, London, 1947, illus Violet Morgan, illus Violet Morgan 256 pp.
Reprinted, Harrap, 1949
This book starts off conventionally enough with the Pentire girls competing at a show. The
ponies Punch and Judy then go missing, and it takes a while before it dawns on anyone that
they have been stolen, and haven’t just strayed.
A Green Fox
Evans, London, 1949, illus Violet Morgan. 248 pp.
The Badgers of Quinion
Evans, London,1950, illus Violet Morgan, 262 pp.
Terry Ferrars arrives to stay with the Cartwright children. Her arrival coincides with one excitement after another,
culminating in the capture of two spies and the return of Terry’s father (whom everyone but she thought was dead),
and the revelation of who Terry really is.
Vicky and the Pentires
Evans, London, 1951, illus Violet Morgan, 239 pp.
The summer holiday soon livens up once the children find out that some crooks are using a local folly for dog
rustling, and making free with the ponies to do it. Once the crooks are disturbed they flee, and all seems to
quieten down until they go on to a caravan trip to visit a castle Vicky has inherited. Once they’re there, the
children and Uncle Percy are thrown into the midst of the criminal gang and have to exercise all their ingenuity