Regular readers of this blog will know that, other than writing and books, my other great joy in life is horses, so it will come as no surprise that I was an avid collector of pony books as a child. I ended up with hundreds – which (being perpetually broke) I picked up mainly from our local second hand book shops. (There seemed to be several in our small town when I was a child – not charity shops, but genuine second hand book shops. Lovely places which had that glorious smell of old paper, and that dream-like, sepia quality you just can’t get anywhere else.) They were a joy for me as even my limited pocket money would stretch to pretty much as many books as I wanted. OK, I couldn’t have a pony, and though that gnawed away at me every day, but at least I could live vicariously through the pony ownership of other, imaginary kids.
And all that reading was eventually what got me into writing. So Ruby Ferguson, and Patricia Leitch, and Walter Farley, and the Pullein-Thompson sisters – I owe you guys.
A number of years ago, I decided I needed to simplify my life and slim down my stuff. The pony books I had carted from house to house had to go (well, other than a few special favourites). I got in touch with a lady called Jane Badger who had a website devoted to pony books and was building a database of info about them all. She also bought and sold books – and she bought an awful lot of mine.
I pop back to her site from time to time to look up various aspects of the pony book world, and on a recent visit, I discovered that Jane is re-publishing some of the old pony books, and she herself has penned an imagined sequel to the original Ruby Ferguson Jill books – you can download “Jill and the Lost Ponies” from her website. I have to say, she’s done a great job in keeping faithful to the tone and style of the original books. She’s now writing “Jill and the Pony Club”, so keep an eye on her Facebook page or website for more details.
She has also written a non-fiction book, “Heroines on Horseback: the Pony Book in Children’s Fiction” which I’ve bought ready to read while we’re on holiday – I’m very much looking forward to a trip down memory lane!