W H Allen & Co Ltd, London, 1976
Star Books, pb, 1976, 190 pp, 8 pgs plates
As: The Littlest Horse Thieves, pb, Pocket Books, USA, 1997
Escape from the Dark was adapted by Rosemary Anne Sisson from her screenplay of the Disney film of the same name. Set in Edwardian England, the action revolves around Lord Halifax’s mine at Elmsdale. The mine uses pit ponies, but the mine loses money. The new mine manager, Mr Sandman, has been brought in to make the mine profitable. It would have been easy to make him a cardboard cutout villain, but Mr Sandman is a man trying to do his best for everybody: to save the mine and therefore the miner’s jobs, even if it means the ponies must go. Unfortunately, in a poor village, there is no one who can afford to care for the ponies, and so they must die. The three children: two miner’s sons and the daughter of the mine manager, decide they must save the ponies.
Books adapted from films can be rather sticky affairs, but Escape from the Dark is a good read, well plotted with plenty of tension. There’s not a great deal of pony action, as the mechanism of rescuing them takes up more of the story.
Rosemary Ann Sisson