Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Panky In The Saddle
Nancy Saxon, il. Charles Saxon

It was a long way to the ground, and I wasn't in control anymore. I wondered if there was any truth to the saying that horses can smell fear. It was one of those things you couldn't ask. It would sound dumb.
Frances "Panky" Mooney loves William, the small black gelding who has exasperated everyone at the Fox Run Hunt Club in a wealthy part of Connecticut, and worries that she'll never learn to ride as well as her friends.

The simple style and realistic first-person narration by the child heroine are probably perfect for an uncertain or beginner reader. The length (145 pages) and extended ruminations on parental finances, though, seem to place it out of that category. The few illustrations are hit or miss, some being wonderfully spot-on, some beautifully dreamy and a few just awkward.

Also awkward are the attempts to make this more than just a horse book - the bits about her family's finances are unappealing and ultimately unbelievable, and the predictable plot about her idol turning out to have feet of kleptomaniac clay was a snooze.

I pretended to concentrate on making William back up. I sawed the reins left and right in turn, the way I'd seen Katie do. William responded with a few half-hearted bucks. Then he fell back on the tried-and-true William formula. When in doubt, run. We went half the ring before I got him back to a walk.
I did like the realistic portrayal of going from dreamy love to a realization that there is an element of basic animal management to riding, as well as the faithful love for horses that the heroine shows, and the fact that her obsession is out of the blue, of no reasonable origin. I loathed her constant refrain about being fat, and thought the harping on how superior training is to buying a 'made' horse was a bit tiring.

Other Books
Panky and William (precedes this book)
Panky In Love

Horse Show
Bourgie Parents

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