Bernadette Kelly is currently best known for her pony tales (stories about horses), but she’s about venture into YA fiction and if early drafts of her manuscript are anything to go by, it’s going to be a fantastic read.

Today though, we are going to be talking about Bernadette’s Horsy adventures.

Bernadette started writing in 1995 after her  second child was born and she began to think about a new career where she could work from home around the needs of her children.

I began by completing a one year short story course, and when that went well I enrolled in the professional Writing and Editing Diploma at RMIT. While I was studying at RMIT I made contacts in the publishing industry, which ultimately led me to writing for children.

Bernadette began her writing career with educational books, and  she has eighteen primary-level educational titles, both fiction and non-fiction. Before children’s books she wrote for newspapers and magazines, and worked as a freelance editor.

As well as writing, she has been involved with teaching creative writing and numeracy and literacy to school children and adults

How The Pony Patch series came about

The Pony Patch series came about after the success of the Riding High books, a series of eight novels about a girl called Annie and her horsey adventures.

My publishers, Andrew Kelly and Maryann Ballantyne of Black Dog Books, asked me to submit another ‘pony’ story line, but for younger readers.

Pony Patch is a set of stories about a very naughty pony called Norton and his owner, Molly, who thinks Norton can do no wrong. The gorgeous illustrations by Liz Alger show Norton behaving badly in every situation, while Molly’s narrative offers an excuse or blames somebody else for all of Norton’s terrible behaviours.

The books are illustrated chapter books aimed at children aged from about six to ten.

Not surprisingly, kids love the humour of these books and the way that Molly explains away all of Norton’s  bad behaviours, beautifully illustrated by Liz Alger.

In the first book, Naughty Norton, it takes Molly the whole book to catch her pony.

In book two, Losing Norton, Norton goes missing and Molly becomes a detective while trying to track him down.

For book three, Norton Saves the Day, Norton almost causes a nasty accident but Molly gives him all the credit for saving her life.

Bernadette says her favourite is book four, Norton’s Blue Ribbon, in which Norton and Molly attend the local show and Norton causes havoc but manages to win a first prize Stephen Bradbury style.

Where Bernadette’s ideas came from

Norton is a conglomeration of every naughty pony I have ever known, of which there have been quite a lot. His behaviour is truly awful most of the time but, like Molly, I can’t help but love him.

Molly, like many kids, will put up with anything just to be doing the thing she loves. Writing the Pony Patch books was a joy. I had the indulgence of being able to call on my own childhood experiences and those of my children and their friends.

Horses and Ponies have minds of their own and they don’t always agree with humans. Norton’s adventures are exaggerated but fairly typical examples of the kinds of things that go wrong between horses and riders.

The hardest thing when writing the Pony Patch stories was not being sure if the illustrator would see the story as I did. But when I saw the gorgeous illustrations by Liz Alger my fears were put to rest. She totally nailed it!

Teacher’s notes for Pony Patch can be found on the Black Dog Books website, bdb.com.au.

The books have been re-published in a bind up, The Pony Patch Collection, and are also published in the United States by Capstone under the title of Pony Tales.

For more information about Bernadette and her work, visit www.bernadettekelly.com.au

For enquiries regarding author visits to schools and community groups, call 0417083929

Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.