The moon was full the night they disappeared. Windswept paddocks lay clear and blue under high tatters of cloud. A car lurched, without lights, along the rutted road that ran from the town to the bay. It moved erratically, urgently, as though the driver didn’t know how to drive. The wind whipped away the sound of the engine…
Nine years later …
Biddy thought she lived in the perfect spot, with the town on one side, the headland on the other, and the bay in front. Sometimes she rode up to the gravel ridge behind the stockyards and planned how she would defend her kingdom if she were a princess.
Biddy lives with her parents on a farm on the edge of town and the edge of wilderness. She is bright and curious and desperate to be a cowgirl and help with the mustering. It’s tricky and tiring mustering cattle from the scrubby headland, and the country is full of mystery and unexpected danger. Biddy’s pony becomes stuck in quicksand on the beach. Next morning, the pony is gone, but there are footprints on the beach. Biddy can’t imagine who it could be, the headland is wilderness. No one could possibly live there, particularly someone as small as the footprints suggest. The mystery wraps itself around her and begs to be solved
It’s fifteen years since The Quicksand Pony was originally released and it has lost nothing of its appeal. It is as relevant and as gripping as it was on first release. Biddy is a delightfully grounded child, clearly secure in her world, wild and determined. ‘The Quicksand Pony’ is about notions of family in its different guises, about community. It’s also about survival and adapting to changing circumstances. It’s a thrilling mystery and a lovely visit to the world of a cattle farm and a rural community. Recommended for upper-primary readers.
The Quicksand Pony, Alison Lester Allen&Unwin 2012 ISBN: 9781742378008
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author