Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) is perhaps a surprising entrant in a listing of pony stories: he’s far better known for his adult stories, and as a writer whose work portrayed Catholicism in a world which is unrelentingly full of sin and evil, it’s tempting to wonder quite how his children’s stories are going to turn out: is their world full of evil? Certainly as far as The Little Horse Bus goes, there’s evil there, in the shape of bank robbers who steal a hansom cab full of cash, and whip the poor horse who draws it unmercifully; and then suggest they leave her to starve to death in the wharf where they stash the cash. Fortunately, for this is a children’s book, evil is confounded. The characterisation is shared between Mr Potter, Tim the errand boy, pony Brandy and the horse bus itself: all personifications of good, thankfully.
Finding the book: very good first editions are expensive. The book was reprinted, and is easy to find as a reprint.
Max Parrish, London, 1952, 35 pp, illus Dorothy Craigie
Bodley Head, London, 1974, 46 pp, illus Edward Ardizzone
Doubleday, New York, 1974, 47 pp, illus Edward Ardizzone
Viking, London, 1994, 47 pp, illus Edward Ardizzone
Mr Potter the grocer has three assistants, an errand boy called Tim, and a pony called Brandy, which he keeps to cheer children up. Then competition appears in the shape of the Hygienic Emporium Company Limited. They use a splendid chestnut mare (not friendly) called Beauty, and a hansom cab, to deliver goods. Customers prefer Beauty, but the children don’t. Beauty delivers the wads of cash the Emporium earns to the Bank, but one day she and her hansom cab, and the cash are stolen. But all is not lost: the little horse bus, and Brandy who pulls it, have seen what happened.