Pony Tales

Episodes

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20160929

Pony books are generally considered a rather minor literary genre - pulp-fiction for a certain type of pre-adolescent girl. In spite of being one of the most seriously-rated of authors for young people, Meg Rosoff begs to differ.

She tells the story of her own lifelong passion for pony books and explores the reasons why girls - and some menopausal women - are drawn to them.

In a programme which gallops between the riding stables in Suffolk where Meg used to keep her own horse to a conference on pony books in Cambridge and back to her own book-lined study, Meg considers some of the tired old arguments about ponies as a sort of erotic transitional object for girls and some women. She also looks into them as a form of romantic preparation and an escape into a world of physical freedom.

But this is a programme which takes ponies and pony books far beyond the reading habits of small girls in jodhpurs.

Meg's personal conclusion about the appeal of these books is surprising. She relates the idea of "thoroughness" in riding (a connectedness between horse and rider most often referred to in dressage but essential to all good riding) to her own experience as a writer - with the rider representing the conscious mind and the horse being the far more powerful unconscious. And she links rider, writer and reader in a thought-provoking arc that lifts the very best books in the pony genre to a whole new level.

Meg Rosoff is the winner of numerous awards, including the 2016 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the biggest cash prize in the world for a writer of books for children and young people.

Presenter and Producer: Beaty Rubens.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19930829]

Frances Donnelly looks at the success of the Pullein-Thompson sisters, authors of children's pony novels, who have sold more than 11 million books since 1946. Producer Gordon Hutchings

Genome: [r4 Bd=19930829]

Unknown: Frances Donnelly

Producer: Gordon Hutchings