Monday, 16 July 2018

Review by 'Tintin' - The Discontented Pony by Noel Barr


Younger readers pony story. Merrylegs is a little pony who lives on a farm. Knowing his grandfather was a racehorse, he longs for a more exciting life. When he sees a fair one day he thinks becoming a roundabout horse would be a great idea so he runs off to join the fair. However his experiences in the outside world teach him a valuable lesson about life. 


This is a ladybird book pitched at the very young and is probably more a book intended to be read to people. Brought out in 1951

It is unusual for me to review a book aimed at such a young audience, but it is a beautiful, unusual and perhaps flawed book

The book has the most beautiful illustrations by PB Hickling, they are so beautiful it is almost painful

It is impossible to review the book without revealing the story

Merrylegs (0/10 for horse naming originality) is a little bay pony, possibly an Exmoor, who lives on a farm. His job is to pull the farmer's trap to a nearby town where he sells eggs and dairy products. The pony's friends are a pig and a calf.

The pony's dam told him, when a foal, of his grandfather who was a race horse. This makes Merrylegs discontented. One day when he goes to the town there is a fair and he sees the roundabout horses. This is the life for him - popular and richly decorated (he does n't realise they are not flesh and blood horses and is upset when they ignore him)

That very night he runs away to the fair, but is caught by the rough gypsy types that run it. When he sleeps he dreams of being a roundabout horse - but, in his dreams the lack of rest and nausea inducing speed make him feel ill (the pictures convey this very well) He runs back to the farm and is happy again with his friends and the gentle farmer (who is a bit puzzled as to how his horse has acquired a new halter and lead rope)

The book is beautiful and elegiac, but as a pre-school child it made me so sad I used to cry inconsolably and my mother had to give the book away. I do think it is a bit too sad and deep for the very young children it is intended for. The farmer had a young son and I think there should have been a sequel where the pony could have gone to gymkhanas, shows and hunts and had a bit of fun with a lively youngster a bit like himself.

If it had only moderated the melancholy it would have been gold cup, the quality of the illustrations raised it from 4 to 5 for me


Read more and vote on the book here


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