Winni Allfours is a 1995 book by British children’s author Babette Cole, writer of certain popular kindergarten stories (Supermoo, Princess Smartypants and Prince Cinders) which are known for adding a zany twist to familiar elements from fairy tales or comic books.
This story is a little different. The plot is simple –
Winni Allfours is a girl who lives in the countryside and wants a pony more than anything in the world. But her parents don’t approve the idea, and prefer enforcing their strict vegetarian lifestyle upon their daughter. When the school dinner lady comments that Winni “will turn into a horse” from eating so many vegetables, Winni decides to put her theory to the test, and sure enough, this works!
Afterwards, things go uphill for Winni very fast as she trains to become a champion racehorse, under the guidance of Paddy O’Connor. The sneaking machinations of rival jockey Nobbler O’Toole don’t stop her from beating the world record and fulfilling her ambitions. Winni’s parents suggest she’ll turn back into a little girl by eating enough hamburger and chips, promising to buy her a pony. However, Winni declines, choosing to live her dreams as a horse instead.
- The Ace: Winni. Not only does she win her first race, but she succeeds in beating the world record. Amazing what can happen in a kid’s book.
- An Aesop: Mostly averted. Babette Cole set out to write a fun story, not deliver any Aesops, other than the classic “eat your greens”. Which is just as well. Most whimsical children’s books don’t look that healthy when seen through the lens of an Aesop, but this one counts as a strong offender. Thank you, Fridge Logic!
- Fantastic Aesop: See below for both young and old.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: For children. Always eat your vegetables. Your parents may not always give you what you want, but it’s good to obey them, because you may get what you want… since you’ve been sneakily exploiting their demands to your own ends. And thing gets better from there! Once you’ve got what you wanted, don’t feel guilty about turning down your parents after that, because you’re having such fun! No school again, ever!
- Horse Girl Aesop: For adults. Always grant your kid’s wishes. Avoid trying to impose something else on them. Not because perhaps you’re being narrow-minded… but because they’ll turn the tables on you, exploiting the very thing you wanted them to do. See that’s what happens. Your daughter wants a horse, but all you want is her to eat vegetables? She’ll eat them… to turn into a horse!
- All Girls Like Ponies: This particular girl takes things Up to Eleven.
- Alternate Character Interpretation
- Winni Allfours: Plucky Girl who just wishes to follow her dreams, regardless of her parents’ stuffiness? Or irresponsible, short-sighted and selfish Enfant Terrible?
- Mr and Mrs Allfours: Strict, relatively humourless parents who gain some enlightenment from their daughter’s remarkable triumph? Or misguided grown-ups who only want what’s best for their daughter, and inadvertently end up profiting financially but losing their child in the process?
- Paddy: An open-minded adult who wants to help Winni achieve her ambition? Or a schemer who’s more subtle than O’Toole in exploiting Winni?
- Becoming the Genie: Well, sorta. Winni never did get a horse, but she likes being one. She also doesn’t seem to mind having a rider. (No, not that kind, you perverts)
- Child Prodigy: Winni. Very unusual in that her prodigy lies in becoming the world’s fastest racehorse!
- Cool Horse: Take a guess. We dare you.
- Determinator: Winni, again. She can’t get a pony? No problem… she just turns into a horse herself!
- Fridge Horror: Not so much the fact that Winni has become trapped in horse shape, since she can theoretically turn back. No, you’ll eventually remember that horses don’t live very long when compared to humans…
- I Choose to Stay as a horse.
- Never Grew Up: Can be safely assumed to be Winni’s ultimate fate. She doesn’t mind at all, but when you think things through... *shudder.
- Plot Irrelevant Villain: O’Toole has virtually no importance to the plot, other than to set up the above joke. Mr and Mrs Allfours’ refusal to sell Winni to him also shows that they’re not bad parents.
- Self Made Pony: Literally.
- Tough Love: Mr and Mrs Allfours. Proves quite beneficial to Winni in the end.
- Transformation Sequence: Two pages showing Winni’s gradual transformation from petite girl to chubby pony. Since it’s described as ‘slow’, one wonders why nobody noticed until the transformation was complete.
- Transformation Trauma: Averted by Winni. Her parents, however, don’t react well. Played for Laughs in that they’re horrified to see a horse ravaging their vegetable patch.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Except for her parents, nobody is struck by a racehorse that was once a little girl – and still speaks, too.
- Possibly justified in that Winni’s pony friend, Snowdrop, appears perfectly capable of communicating with her owner Paddy. Averted when Winni steals her kidnappers’ lorry.
That’s no ordinary horse!