Monday, January 19, 2009

And now an English book for a change of pace.

Poor Badger
K.M. Peyton, il. Mary Lonsdale
1990, Doubleday

Ros Palfrey is horse-crazy but lacks opportunity until she spots a handsome pinto pony grazing in a park near her home. Completely around the bend about the pony but suspicious of his careless owners, she makes it her mission in life to look after Mountfitchet Meteor Light or, as she calls him, Badger. But despite her efforts, his owners' sloppy care slowly turns to neglect, and as winter approaches, Ros begins to believe that Badger will die of hunger and cold. So she hatches a plan...

Going home from school, the path led out of Safeway's parking lot and across a wide stretch of rough ground toward the railroad. It was spring, and the ground was greening happily, bright with dandelions and ­-

Ros stopped in her tracks and Leo, trailing, walked into the back of her.


"Look!" Her voice quivered with glory. "Look!" It squeaked, out of control.

Leo looked. Usually the field was empty, except perhaps for an old man walking his dog, but today a pony was grazing in it, held by a chain fastened to a tether.

I am so jealous. I always wanted to find a pony tied out in a field by my town's supermarket. All I ever found was a turtle. Damn those English towns with their wacky commons and lack of proper zoning regulations, making Americans drool with envy.

A crisp and energetic book with a dreamy sidekick who comes into his own, a brave heroine, a realistic villain and an adorable pony. I would quibble that the heroine's parents are rather spineless when the pony's owner calls up to complain about their daughter's behavior. Her father's caution about it being chancey to draw the RSPCA's attention to the pony's condition seem more about reluctance to get involved than a real concern about the pony or his daughter. And the insistence on realism at the end was more labored than a traditional perfect ending would have been.

Did I mention the adorable pony? The cover makes that quite clear. The interior illustrations are less charming, being rather rough and doing a better job with the human faces than the pony.

Mountfitchet Meteor Light/Badger - black and white pinto pony gelding
Ermintrude/Erm - dog

Horse Show

Other Books
Flambards In Summer
The Team

Author Website

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