I have a lot of books. When I say ‘a lot’ there are thirty novels waiting to be read on my bedside bookcase. My study/bedroom has three large bookcases crammed with my favourite writers. Downstairs there are more. And did I mention the attic and my stepmother’s garage, both housing books, some of which I bought for my children when they were little? I’m not a hoarder by nature. ‘Chuck it out’ is my motto, but I have a pathological blind spot when it comes to films and novels. When I announced to our estate agent recently that we’d found a house after a long search his first question was: ‘Is it big enough for all your books?’ You get the picture. This leads me in a circuitous way to the boxes of children’s stories I haven’t clapped eyes on for the past few years and which hold a special place in my heart. Who can fail to melt as a child, wide-eyed and captivated, listens to his or her favourite tale? And now my children are having children, what better time to rummage through the all time favourites as I move them from one house to another? Fortuitously and by sheer happenstance, ‘A Tale of Ted’ by Lottie Prentice popped through my letterbox in the midst of my nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Now I’ll be straight: for a debut author to garner fulsome praise from celebrities and established writers is a rarity. But Lottie Prentice is no ordinary novice writer. She’s a former three-day event rider and member of the British Equestrian Team. She knows her stuff. Did I expect authenticity? Absolutely. Did I expect great storytelling? I was dubious.
In fact and happily, it’s a great little story. Ted is a very naughty horse, indeed, with a tendency to bite the farrier, terrify the vet and chuck off his brand new rug. How well I remember ‘Stella’, my own horse when I was a teenager, who had similar, if slightly more dangerous, inclinations.
As we all know, children love characters with an impish disposition and with whom they can empathise so Ted certainly fits the bill. Wayward and ‘his own horse’ best sums him up.
Aimed at under seven year-olds, occasionally, the language seemed a little advanced but this was more than compensated for by the rhythmic prose and gorgeously illustrated text by Lorna Gray. With other characters, like Rhino the Jack Russell and Barney the Owl, Ted seems set to embark on another adventure or two. I do hope so.
‘A Tale of Ted’ by Lottie Prentice is published by Crumps Barn Studio and available at the fantastic price of £6.99