Monday, 30 July 2012

Fergus writes... about a recent review

Dear Rachael,

As the reviewer mentions she is thinking of her great-niece.  It rather dates her but I am sure she is very well intended.

Contains 8 very short stories.  Stilted writing and very repetitive.  Many inaccuracies (such as a 12hh Shetland pony) The average size of a Shetland pony is 11.2 hands.  That is 11 hands and two fingers.  There being four inches to a hand or 100mm.  To have a 11.2 average there must be above and below average in the sample and to have a 12hh Black Shetland Pony is not unusual.  Indeed I owned one for many years.  Contradictions, unbelievable scenarios such as a 9year old riding a 17hh horse who is deemed "the perfect size for a riding horse".  The perfect size or does she mean temperament.  A 17hh is not perfect for myself as I need a little larger.  and poor advice on how to ride horses.  I check all books before giving them to my great-niece, and at 8 years old she would find these an intelligence.  I am afraid most child readers are stuck in a tower block in an inner city and have not had the opportunity to ride a horse.  We must think of them and I hope our Great Aunt agrees.  Allow those young girls their dream please Great Aunt.

I have noticed that there are about 30 of these 'books' (episodes?) and find it strange that they have all been written, or published, within the space of 3 months - in fact some have even been published/written on the same day!  The fact that they are published the same day does not mean they are written the same day.  Furthermore, Fergus Wilson seems to have co-written these with 4 different people.  A scam?  I don't know but they are all apparently part of the 'Anastasia Series' but each co-writer has altered some of the details - such as changing Anastasia's eye colour, friends, aunts, horses and one even said she hated horses!  Can anyone explain this please?
There were a range of authors initally with the same brief, and some deviated from that brief so much that their books were no longer published.  I can find some things about the 4 co-writers, but all I get when I google Fergus Wilson is something to do with him being the biggest buy-to-let investor in the UK! (Absolutely true!)  Incidentally, Rachael Phillips comments on her Amazon page that she has "recently published, as co-author, Series I and II, aimed at 9-12 year olds, of ebooks all about Anastasia and her adventures with the horses of Boughton Lodge.  Not to be mistaken with any other Anastasia books mind you!"  (Whatever do you mean?)  Sour grapes at not making money from ALL the 30+ books and having to share the profits?  I wonder...! At 2 quid per 8 pages - quite a money spinner.

Negative review I know (indeed), but originally I was delighted to have found another pony series (I was brought up on such authors as Pat Smythe, the Pullen-Thompson sisters, Ruby Ferguson, Elaine Mitchell, Gillan Baxter to name but a few), but I was really disappointed with these offerings - my niece, I'm afraid, will just have to make do with re-reading some of my old pony books stored in the loft, as I would not even consider giving these to her!  Please don't waste your money on these and only download freebies so you can judge for yourself - I'm glad I did, at £7+ this is certainly NOT worth the money & at £2+ for each of the stories separately is poor value (literally) for 15odd (sometimes only 8) pages of rubbish.

I am afraid I have never heard of any of the authors our reviewer mentions.  Our reviewer needs to understand the need to improve literacy levels in our society and I can tell you from experience that little girls like to read, write, draw and dream about horses.  Unfortunately, for the vast majority it will never be more than a dream - do not take their dreams away dear Great Aunt.


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