POOR BADGER by K.M. Peyton

POOR BADGER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Carnegie winner noted for dramatic, psychologically intricate novels in which horses often play an important role (Flambards, 1968) creates an updated Black Beauty scenario for younger readers: the rescue of a pony whose abuse makes this book more a cautionary tale than a well-plotted story. Ros loves ponies, but her family can't afford one. When the raucous Smiths stake handsome Badger out on the public ground near the Safeway, she is at first delighted--he's lively and alert, and she can visit him--but she's soon appalled: The Smiths ride him harshly, feed him little more than the trampled grass he can reach from his chain, barely give him water. Ros's parents are concerned but helpless: Badger's condition is not bad enough to report to the SPCA, though they give that a futile try. With winter closing in, Ros and friend Leo make a plan: In the small hours, they lure Badger over a footbridge and leave him in the pasture of slightly disreputable Sid, who calmly begins to care for him properly. There are no great moral insights here; Ros's dad, when she breaks down and confides, is concerned and cautiously checks with the police, but Badger's absence has gone unreported--the Smiths are glad to be rid of him. Characterization, too, is minimal, though both kids respond unexpectedly under the stress of their exciting heist. Despite some deft writing and the harrowing depiction of the neglected pony, a rather ordinary story with a flat, mildly unlikely conclusion.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Delacorte