Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Best foot forward. In this case, best paddock boot forward.

This blog's aim is to review children's books which center around horses. There will be some other genres - nonfiction, memoir, essay, mystery - all horse-related, of course, but the general idea is to give myself an excuse to read and review the books I loved as a kid, and discover new ones. I'll be focusing mostly on American books, as there are several blogs already in operation to lovingly mull over Britain's contributions to the genre; it's in honor of that particular strain of horse book that this blog is named. There will, inevitably, be British and Australian books included, and I believe there are a few translated books from other nations as well. Most will be juvenile fiction, but there will also be some picture books, and some adult fiction and non-fiction.

I will be trying to keep the reviews generally consistent. My basic outline is to include the title, author and illustrator (if present), year of publication and publisher. Then a summary of the plot. Then a review. I will attempt to include a review of any illustrations, and a list of any other books written by the author. After re-reading a host of these books, I've noticed a few common ideas cropping up repeatedly, and so have created a Themes list, which I've applied to some books. More on this later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Born To Race (Blanche Chenery Perrin, 1959)

Born To Race
Blanche Chenery Perrin, il. Sam Savitt

Suzy Taylor is the luckiest girl in the world, growing up on a Thoroughbred racing farm in Virginia. After Falada, her favorite mare, is injured in a race, the family's fortunes dip, and by the time Falada foals, everyone is hoping for a colt who will grow into a winner. The foal is a filly, which typically means less chance of big purses, but Suzy takes a special interest Whickery, as the foal is named.

The book follows the course of Whickery's life through Suzy's experiences, from the accident that ends Falada's racing career to Whickery's big race. Along the way, the little girl grows up, learning how to sacrifice to help her struggling family (well, relatively, as anyone with a TB breeding farm isn't all that struggling) and solve a crime at the farm.

There's a crusty barn manager, Ben, to impart the usual lessons - how to handle horses in this situation or that, how to deal with this problem. The one I always remember is the 'creep' where a foal can slip into a section of pasture which their mothers can't get in because of a low rail blocking their way, allowing the foals to eat without the mares nabbing the food.

Sam Savitt. Here drawing Thoroughbreds and racehorses, Savitt's pen is darker and more distinct than in Summer Pony. Each drawing resonates with the knowledge of someone who's watched many horses and knows how they move.

Other Books by author
Hundred Horse Farm (sequel) (also illustrated by Savitt)
Thudding Hoofs (also illustrated by Savitt)