Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bright Wampum (1958)

Bright Wampum

Dorothy Lyons, il. Wesley Dennis (jacket, frontspiece)

1958, Harcourt, Brace & Company

To horse-hungry Merry, the mare was perfection from her dainty head with its white arrowhead mark to her sinewy legs and well-muscled quarters. Her white glistened brighter than the others', while the sharply marked bay spots were perfect circles. They ranged in size from dimes to dollars, as if a handful of coins carelessly tossed into the air had fallen across the mare's white rump patch.

Meredith 'Merry' Moore and her family are in the midst of moving from Nebraska to California (whose climate, it is hoped, will cure sickly younger sister Anita) when they break down on the Big Sur coast. Merry, who had spent time riding bucking horses back home, quickly finds a herd of Appaloosas near the cabin where they spend the night, and bonds with the beautiful mare she dubs Bright Wampum.

A Western to balance all of Lyons' show jumping stories, this one somehow gets lost in a maze of a mystery regarding the ranch and a Native American tribe. But toward the end it gets back on track as Merry is torn between a career with the rodeo and a more normal life, and the owner of their rented ranch returns to claim his horses.

Merry trains several horses, including the frustrating Black Penny and her own Wampum, and the sequences involving horse care and training are satisfying.

Merry brushed and buffed until the bright bay coat and spotted 'blanket' threw the sun back in her eyes.


Bright Wampum - bay/white Appaloosa mare

Sachem - black/white Appaloosa stallion

Queen of Spades - black mare


Rawhide - buckskin

Black Penny - black/white Appaloosa mare

Other books by Author
Silver Birch (1939)
Midnight Moon (1941)
Golden Sovereign (1946)
Red Embers (1948)
Harlequin Hullabaloo/Bluegrass Champion (1949)
Copper Khan (1950)
Dark Sunshine (1951)
Blue Smoke (1953)
Java Jive (1955)
Pedigree Unknown (1973)

Other Information about the Author

was originally from Michigan, but lived most of her life in California. Her first two books revolved around friends in a mounted Girl Scout troop in Michigan, then the action moved West. She bred Connemaras. Lyons also wrote an autobiographical work, The Devil Made The Small Town (1983). Wesley Dennis illustrated nearly all her horse books.

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