Casey Jones Rides Vanity
Marion Holland, author and illustrator
1964, Little, Brown & Company
Casey Jones has outgrown her pony, Top Notch, but is torn at the idea of having to part with him. At the first horse show of the year, she takes him for a last outing and falls in love with the beautiful mare Vanity Fair. An accident lands his owner in the hospital and allows Casey to board her for a few months. The first order of business is to get the lovely mare over her fear of jumping.
A clear, well-written horse show adventure with a lot of very nice drawings. A particularly skillful meshing of character with the horse story in the sibling relationship between Casey and her sister. The heroine is very independent and her adventures are rarely followed by the sort of dutiful scoldings so many authors seem obliged to write, as if fiction were required to carry some sort of moral message of 'be careful, and tell a grownup, don't do scary stuff yourself, kids.' This tendency has become worse in recent years; if this book was written in 2008, the little expedition to Vanity's real home would end up with a policeman or Casey's father telling her off.
The illustrations by Marion Holland are a little fanciful, but that adds to their charm. Some of the pony drawings remind me of Thelwell, but cleaner lines.
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