Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Blue Runner
Barlow Meyers, il. Bill Wickham (cover)
1960, The Westminster Press

Outside on the platform, some greeted friends, others went immediately to cars or walked away up the street. Suddenly Mike was desperately lonely. A hard lump knotted in his throat. He had known the feeling frequently since his grandmother's death three months ago, but this was like a blow. He almost turned toward the station to buy a ticket back to that small town in New York.

Mike has been taking care of his ailing grandmother and working part-time at a riding stable through his years in high school. Now that he's graduated and his guardian has died, Mike is in Wyoming to find his father, Matt Illif, who came West years earlier to start the Pigeon Track ranch. But Mike's too stubborn and too wary to simply show up at his dad's ranch. Using his middle name as a last name, he gets himself hired on at the Pigeon Track as Mike Worth, determined to prove himself to his unsuspecting father.

Small flaw with the plan; other people. Matt has remarried and has another child, a slightly younger son named Kelly, and there are unspoken tensions in the ranch that quickly becomes Mike's problem. As the dude struggles to become a cowboy and survive the mysterious problems of the family he debates joining, he's also drawn into the dilemma of the wild horse herd that roams the area. A battle between the reigning stallion and his son, two identical blue roans...

With a whistle that resounded off the mesa sides, he cut in behind the mare, and the young stallion slid to a stop and faced his adversary. He was not going to run this time. He held his stance, rear feet separated and braced a little, so that they pushed him forward like a boxer waiting to have the fight brought to him, one forefoot raised in readiness to leap, strike or sidestep. His flat ears were hidden in his mane, his neck outstretched until the great cords showed like ropes deep in his shoulders.

... leads to the younger, less experienced and more daring horse leading his band of mares deeper into Illif's land. The angry rancher hires a mustang killer to eliminate the problem. Mike, younger and more romantic, hates to see the end of the horse, and is faced with defying his father almost as soon as he's met him or letting the horse die.

A cowboy book more than a horse book, although the last chapters do put Mike and the roan together in a partnership that ought to satisfy even the most ardent Pony Clubber. The writing is good, the plotting excellent and the characters are believable.

Other books by Author
Last Of The Wild Stallions (1949)
Tumbleweed (1952)
Fireball (1956)

About the Author
Gertrude Barlow Meyers wrote several westerns for children, and several books that were related to popular television programs of the era - The Lawrence Welk Show, The Mickey Mouse Club, and Have Gun, Will Travel. A graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and Illinois State Normal University, with an M.A. from the University of Chicago, Meyers was a reporter in Detroit before becoming a teacher.

A website tracking people named Barlow lists her with some book jackets of her other work.

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