The Quicksand Pony
By Alison Lester
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
This book was published 15 years ago and has now been reissued with a gorgeous new cover.
The Quicksand Pony, set on a farm near the rugged Australian coastline is mainly about Biddy, devastated at having to leave her pony Bella, behind during a cattle muster, because she gets stuck in tidal sands. The next morning she rushes back and finds Bella gone and only some human and animal prints in the sand.
The mystery footprints belong to Joe, a boy who has been living on his own in the bush after his mum died. How their lives intersect is revealed in a cleverly structured story that at times reads like a thriller but is always firmly grounded in reality.
Alison takes her time getting to the quicksand incident, in the meanwhile introducing us to the terrain and the people who live there. As well as a great plot this story has a strong sense of place and is rich in details of life in Australia: the bush, working on the farm, family chatter, the dogs, the weather; all presented in an unsentimental practical way. What also shines are the human animal relationships and interactions, Joe and his dingo, Biddy and Bella, her parents talking to their dogs, and more.
This is storytelling at its best, you learn, discover and enjoy. I loved this book but then I haven’t found a book by Alison Lester that I didn’t enjoy. For older readers about 8+.