Ride The Wild Storm
Marjorie Reynolds, il. Lorence F. Bjorklund
1969, The Macmillan Company
"Every time he gives a little cough, you rush to him as if he were dying."
12-year-old David Lang is frozen in indecisive nervousness between his impatient father and his sickly mother. His father rages at his mother's coddling, and his mother weeps at his father's brusqueness, and David basically tries to cut off the sound of their twin whining while dreaming of horses, but he's a worried kid. Worried about his parents, who are talking divorce, worried about his asthma, worried about being shunted off to
"Let's ride bareback," he said, although he had never done such a thing in his life.
With Bill Macy and his pony Pumpkin for company, David and Salty explore
Very much a boy adventure, with the focus being on how Salty gives David freedom and autonomy. There is much less fascination with the horse as a beautiful animal or to the care of the horse than in the typical horse book starring a girl. David dearly loves Salty, and there are passages where he reflects on her beauty or gentleness, but it is an emphatically male POV. In most horse stories, a girl rescues a horse; here, a horse rescues a boy.
Reynolds had a few quirks which made her books a bit aggravating - an obsession with fat kids, a tendency to portray women as either sturdy and contented second fiddles or as weak ciphers (with men as strong, sensible alpha males) and some unlikely language - has any 12-year-old boy after 1900 really uttered the word "shall" in a casual conversation? The language itself is slightly stilted; it's clear and readable, but a little simple for the presumed audience.
As opposed to that is her depiction of a wonderful childhood summer running free across a unique island, galloping bareback on the beach, rescuing hapless people and becoming strong and confident. She vividly portrays a sense of a summer idyll on horseback, and Bjorklund's soft, dreamy art complements her style.
The Cabin On Ghostly Pond
A Horse Called Mystery
Dark Horse Barnaby
Keep A Silver Dollar
Ride The Wild Storm