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Barbara Holland


The Pony Problem

E.P. Dutton, New York, 1977, cover art by Susan Jeffers
Scholastic, pb, 1977

Jean Monroe of 10007 Maryellen Lane lived in a house which looked
just like any other house, apart from the fact that the front lawn was
used for grazing by Hopscotch, Jean’s newly arrived, won-in-a-contest,
chocolate palomino pony. Jean found herself in a downhill battle to
ward of the SPCA (called by nosy neighbours) and to dispose of
continual “piles of poop.” Mrs Monroe understood her daughter’s
dilemma, but even she couldn’t turn around an obviously hopeless
contest.



Barbara Holland (1933 - 2010) lived, when she wrote The Pony Problem, in a Pennsylvania town that is “a kind of children’s dream-world, where all girls have ponies” - including her own daughter, on whose experiences she based the book.  “My daughter’s pony was such a frightful pest, getting into the house, trampling the neighbors’ gardens, or vanishing for hours into the surrounding community, with me trotting along the roads afoot after her, carrot in one hand and clothesline in the other, that I felt I ought to get some good out of it all.”


Barbara Holland won prizes for her poetry when she was at school, but converted to prose when she had a living to earn. She wrote several books, over wide ranging fields: The Joy of Drinking, and Gentleman’s Blood - a History of Duelling being just two, besides of course her one pony book, The Pony Problem. She lived in Virginia. Two of her hobbies were smoking and drinking, there not being a lot else to get up to when you lived on a mountain. Her mother was a children’s book author (Marion Holland); her father a lawyer in FD Roosevelt’s administration, and she was brought up in Chevy Chase.


Finding the book: The Pony Problem is relatively easy to find in America. It didn’t have a British publication (as far as I know - there is mention of a Penguin edition, but I haven’t found any solid evidence of a copy from a British seller), but if anyone knows for definite that there is one, please let me know. From the ISBN quoted, I assume it’s a Puffin paperback, but a pretty obscure one if so.


Sources:

New York Times’ obituary of Barbara Holland, 13 September 2010

Loudon Times’ obituary of Barbara Holland, 14 September 2010

Barbara Holland’s website

An article in the Washington Post on Barbara Holland - which I do recommend you read as it gives an excellent idea of what Barbara Holland is like - quite something, it has to be said, and about as un-PC as possible.

Being 70 - the View From Up Here - an article by Barbara Holland

Many thanks to Susan Bourgeau for all her help with the book and its contents.


Bibliography - horse books only