Perhaps I’m a little late to the wake but I was saddened to learn that one of my very favourite childhood authors died a few weeks ago.
The Pullein-Thompson pony books (Josephine had two sisters and between them they apparently published around 200!) were dated even when I devoured them, in the 1970s and 80s. “Oh Joanna, you are a brick. Mummy will be ever so pleased. You will come to supper?”
But their jolly hockey-sticks style took nothing away from the compelling stories of girls and their ponies having adventures and achieving goals.
I learnt about naughty ponies and how to train them. I learnt about laboriously earning shillings and pence to pay for the pony that had to be rescued. I learnt about mucking out, and jumping five bar gates, and hacking to pony club rallies. For a pony-mad girl living in the pony-less brick veneer suburbs of Melbourne, half a world away from the green fields of England, these books provided a glimpse of heaven.
They also provided a then fairly rare glimpse of girls getting dirty, girls working and riding their ponies, girls winning ribbons and saving the day. Yet the only overt moralising was about treating ponies firmly but always with kindness.
You can read Josephine Pullein-Thompson’s obituary in The Guardian, here.
And a further discussion of Pullein-Thompson’s books, and their impact on young readers, again in The Guardian here. The comments are worth a look too. I reckon I’ve read just about every one of those pony books that are mentioned…