Dream Pony For Robin
Suzanne Wilding, il. Sam Savitt
Robin clambered onto the pony's rather muddy back, her right hand grasping a good big chunk of black mane. He was bigger and wider than Magelda, but just as steady. She felt very happy. "Look, Ma, how do you like him?"
Robin Fleming is eight years old and the loving but impatient owner of an elderly donkey named Magelda. What Robin really wants is a pony, so she can learn to ride and jump like older sister Wendy, and go to Pony Club meetings. When she sees a sale ad in the Chronicle for a black show pony, she falls in love. But Stove Polish is too big and advanced for the young beginner, and Robin's parents buy her the small, young pony who will be dubbed Snooks.
Back at the Flemings's Applebee Farm, Robin has her work cut out for her - she not only had to learn to ride (from her older sister, poor kid), she has to train her young, green pony as well. Their early attempts at cantering are rough -
She began to lose her balance and lean forward. Snooks went faster. She grabbed his mane and hung on. Snooks tore around the field... She held her breath, pushed her heels down hard, and Snooks started to slow up. Robin could feel her knees shaking.
- and humiliations at their first Pony Club meeting send Robin into a funk. But all comes right in the end, as hard work and persevevearance take the pair all the way to the Devon Horse Show, and a tryout for a Pony Team to represent the
A very simply written book, which makes it less interesting for an adult reader. Robin is convincingly childish, which is refreshing after all the books whose wee heroines have perfect self-control and mature introspection. She goes from exuberant to shy in an instant, sulks for weeks when she's disappointed, holds grudges against her pets, and in many other ways acts like an actual 8-year-old. Which makes it all the more impressive that she grows up a bit and by the halfway point, has the ability to focus on a difficult goal.
The strongest writing focuses on Robin's feelings for her family and her animals;
She sat down and fondled Snooks's head and neck. "I called you a mean pony," she whispered in his ear. "I hated you, 'cause you scared me so, but I'm the mean one, not you. You never hurt me half as much as I hurt you."
The weakest point of the book is the flatness. There is no richness to the description, no strong sense of place, no real eloquence. There are some evocative lines, as when we meet Robin's father for the first time;
His old straw hat was tilted against the sun and his favorite Saturday morning slacks looked warm and comfortable.
But the more conscious attempts to provide a visual are strained.
The pony was as black as stove polish with only one white sock and a little white mark in the shape of a diamond in the center of his forehead. Mrs. Fleming walked around and admired him from all angles. She could see he was a real show pony.
The action moves nicely, and the plot (while typically over-the-top) is reasonable in horse-book terms. Overall a pleasant if very slightly dated book for younger readers.
Magelda - grey Sicialian donkey
Mister Darling - brown pony gelding
Stove Polish - black pony gelding
Snooks - small grey pony with black mane
Other Books by Wilding
Big Jump For Robin
No Love For Schnitzel
The Triple Crown Winners: The Story Of
Ups And Downs: A First Guide To Writing And Horse Care (il. Savitt)
The Book Of Ponies
Short Story Collections
Horse Tales (il. Savitt)
Horses, Horses, Horses
Horses In Action
Click here for a photo of the actual cover, as shown on Amazon.