Sunday, 19 May 2013

Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe by Victoria Eveleigh (Children's, 7 years +, 10/10 E) Guest Blog Post

2nd May 2013, Orion 
160 pages, Paperback 
Review copy 

Themes: moving house, moving from the town to the country, the trials (& joys) of having a little sister, sibling rivalry, getting blamed for everything, being bored (Nayu: not a word I believe in!), feeling lost, lacking a little self-confidence, rising up to the challenge, learning ways of the country, being in your own element, feeling abandonned, making new friends, unexpected finds, loved one being in hospital, not giving up on your dreams, Romany ways, having new pets,

Content: some laughter, some tears 

Summary from Orion
Joe's life changes unexpectedly when he discovers an old horseshoe in the first in this new pony trilogy about making new friends and facing new challenges.
There are lots of things Joe would wish if he had the chance - that his family hadn't moved from the city to the country, that his mum hadn't bought two ponies no one could ride, and that one day he might have a dog of his own. So when he finds a lucky horseshoe in his garden, he makes some wishes just for fun. After all, there's always a chance they might come true...

Nayuleska's thoughts 
Besides this being one of Victoria's books (which are all awesome), I was intrigued at having a pony book with a boy as the main character instead of a girl. I wasn't sure what I'd think of it - I needn't have worried because I totally loved it as much as if it had been with a girl. Joe has a lot of responsibility as a big brother, which a lot of the time is a thankless job. I loved it when Emily had a big incident and Joe was there to save her - he was shaken up after which show's how compassionate he is. All his insecurities are ones girls have too - although to be fair some are more because he's a big brother. The way ponies come into his life was interesting, as well as his reactions. It goes to show both boys and girls should never be ruled out for doing a  particular sport or hobby. I'm super eager for book 2 which comes out this July - whoohoo! 

You can find out more on Victoria's website.

Suggested read
Definitely check out Victoria's other books. Start with the first of a trilogy, Katy's Wild Foal. (Children's, 7 years +, 10/10)

Guest blog post: Why I Chose To Have A Boy As The Main Character

Danny, the games pony that provided the inspiration for Lightning in the Horseshoe trilogy
It is a great pleasure to have Victoria chat about why she has written a pony series centred around a boy - she is an awesome writer and really friendly.  

When I was a pony-mad but pony-less girl growing up in London during the 1960s, I loved reading horse and pony stories. Boys played important roles in most of the books I liked best: My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, Misty of Chincoteague, Cobbler’s Dream, The Last Ditch . . . Even in stories where a girl was the main character – The Team or Silver Snaffles, for instance – there was a competent horsey boy waiting in the wings. (And, thinking about it, the boy was usually called Peter.)

Since then the trend for pony stories to be aimed at girls rather than boys has become so pronounced that the typical pony story nowadays has an almost exclusively female cast and, more often than not, a pink cover. Two excellent books that analyse this change in horsey culture are If Wishes Were Horses by Susanna Forrest and Heroines on Horseback: The Pony Book In Children’s Fiction by Jane Badger.

There’s also a witty article on Jane Badger’s website, where she sets out some rules for anyone wanting to write a pony book. Rule number one is Your chief character must be female. You may put boys into the book, but they should be minor, and preferably irritating, characters.

It seems that in many countries, not just Britain, as horses have been used less for work and more for pleasure they’ve become a ‘girl-thing’. So maybe the ‘pinkification’ of pony stories is merely a reflection of our modern horsey culture? I must admit I thought so until a boy called John turned up to one of my book signings and complained that there were no new pony stories for boys. (Warhorse doesn’t count, because it’s about a man and a horse, rather than a boy and a pony, and it’s set in a different age.) It got me thinking, and it gets Joe in Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe thinking as well. 

Here [in this extract], he and his sister Emily meet their neighbour Caroline for the first time as she’s riding her pony down the road:

. . . The excited babble about horses and ponies went on and on. Joe felt as if he’d become invisible. The girls at the riding stables had been the same, jealously guarding their exclusive right to horse-talk. Who’d made the rule that only girls should be keen on riding? Had it always been like that? How could men become jockeys, show jumpers, eventers, mounted policemen or anything to do with horses if boys didn’t ride?

Victoria and Chris Eveleigh with horses 2_credit Guy Harrop
I couldn’t have put it better myself!

So that’s why I made a boy the main character in The Horseshoe Trilogy, and why I dedicated the first book Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe to John, who reminded me that there’s absolutely no reason why boys shouldn’t like ponies too.

Victoria Eveleigh

By the way, I’ve just discovered some excellent horse-and-boy stories for young adults. They are Sheena Wilkinson’s award-winning stories Taking Flight and Grounded.

Many thanks for such an interesting post Victoria - boys need to be shown more in pony books (and many other hobbies that are traditionally seen as being 'for girls') 

Now, if you like the sound of Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe then you are in luck because the lovely people at Orion are giving away not 1 but 3 copies to those in the UK! And I'm giving away 1 copy to the international winner - it's not my copy, which I refuse to part with, but a new one. 

The prize: 3 copies of Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe will go to winners living in the UK, 1 copy of Joe and the Hidden Horseshoe will got to a winner living outside the UK. 

The rules: 1 entry per person, winners will be chosen by a random number generator, please make sure you read my protection policy

This competition has now closed - results will be out 4th June 


DMS said...

I love horse books and this one sounds fabulous. I have always wanted to own my own horse and get sucked into any story with them. :) Thanks for the sharing and the giveaway.

Mary Preston said...

I work with young children & I do know that there are not enough horse related picture books around. Everyone seems to write bears & dinosaurs. Bring on the horses.

Nayuleska said...

Jess - You're welcome! I adore horse stories, but actually being near horses - you'll find me the other end of the yard from them! They are too high off the ground and they don't stay still if you're on them (what makes you think I don't like being on them?)

Mary - that is interesting to know. Wish I wrote picture books! Maybe one day.