Tortoise Publishing, £4.50 Rating: «««« but nearly «««««
This is the a traditional pony book. It has a completely unsparkly cover, with a
simple illustration of the Exmoors. I liked the fact the book is
clear of any tinge
of the Marketing Department. No glitz, no stars, and absolutely no pink. Or unicorns.
Or magic ponies. I like the fact it is illustrated: though some illustrations work
better than others.
There is far more to this book, though, than what it isn't. It is a well-told and
absorbing story. Victoria Eveleigh lives and farms on Exmoor and her deep knowledge
of the area shows through.
Katy, her heroine, lives on an Exmoor farm with her parents and brother. Life is
not at all easy: money is a constant worry. Katy's birthday falls in the middle of
lambing, and so tends to be drowned by all the lambing busyness. She finds a very
poor foal on the Common, but her father won't let her bring it and its mother down
to the farm. Katy is determined to have the foal for her own one day, but she will
only be allowed to have it if it passes its inspection at branding time. Reading
that back, I've made the father sound like an ogre, but he is not. He is a farmer
who has to survive, and who cannot afford indulgences.
This is a good, well observed story. Although in many ways it's a traditional pony
book (girl doesn't have pony, struggles, gets pony) I think it's timeless. It's not
written to "appeal" to the youth market, but it does, because Victoria Eveleigh has
got it right. She understands Exmoor, she understands ponies, and most importantly
of all, people.
My daughter, who did this review with me, said this book was her favourite. She
liked the fact the book was about Exmoors: she enjoyed reading about a specific breed
of pony and how it is managed. The character of Katy though, was what really attracted
her. Perhaps a little worrying for her mother, she most admired Katy’s bidding at
the auction while her father was blithely unaware!