Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saddles For Breakfast (1961)

Saddles For Breakfast

Janet Randall, il. Paul Lane

1961, David McKay Company, Inc.

Curled dejectedly on her bed in one corner, Robin could barely hear her small radio above the noise of the ten-year-old twins, Drucy and Donna, playing across the room. She found herself envying girls who had rooms of their own. Once again the longing to escape swept over her.

16-year-old Robin Marshall is restless and dissatisfied with life in a small Oregon town. Desperate for a change, she persuades her parents to send her to work at the California riding school run by her cousin, Cora Galloway. Life at Sycamore Stable, in a canyon outside Los Angeles, is different than she expected - Cora and her 16-year-old son Butch are struggling to make ends meet after a girl was killed riding one of their horses the previous year. But Robin rises to meet the challenge of working with her hostile cousin Butch and makes a new friend in Paula. When Cora's laid up, Robin volunteers to stay over the winter and continue helping out.

Engaging, with a nice mix of teenaged angst and horsey interest. Robin struggles with homesickness, a hostile cousin, a snobby girl and her own insecurities, including an attraction to a college boy. Her first hurdle is handling the less-than-glamorous truth that Sycamore is a shabby hack stable, not the gleaming lesson barn of her imagination.

Her eyes swept the other horses. Even her untrained eye told her that they were a far cry

from the saddle animals at Greenbriar farm. A few, like one dainty black mare, appeared handsome and high-spirited, but others were well past their prime, with poor conformation or splints from long years of hard riding.

After that first shock, Robin learns to roll with the punches. She learns more about horses and riding at Sycamore than she had at her fancy barn back home, and discovers that her reactions to people - like the unflappable Val - can be colored by her own worries.

Leave it to Val to never lose that saucy self-assurance. For a moment she wondered if that was one of the reasons she found it so hard to like the other girl. There were so many times in her own life when she wasn't sure of herself at all.

A fun, quick read overall, though cousin Butch wears out his surly, bad-tempered welcome early. Robin's friends are acquired a bit too easily, and the pity Robin feels for her beleaguered cousins seems a bit overdone at times. Her next horse book, Pony Girl, was a smoother, more polished work although written for younger children.

Sycamore Stable horses

Pepper - mare

Peppito - foal

Ballerina - black mare

Rex- bay gelding

Dolly - black pony

Leo - bay gelding

Volcano - piebald gelding

Vixen - palomino mare

Sweetheart - gray mare

Major - chestnut gelding

Redbird - sorrel

Jericho - gelding

Fritz - bay gelding

Sorcerer - palomino gelding

Peanut - pinto pony

Tampico - gelding


Saddles For Breakfast (1961)

Pony Girl (1963)

Jellyfoot (1964)

Miracle Of Sage Valley (1958)

Burro Canyon (1964)


Tumbleweed Heart (1959)

Desert Venture (1963)

The Seeing Heart (1965)

Brave Young Warriors (1969)

Topi Forever (1969)

Buffalo Box (1969)

Island Ghost (1970)

The Girl From Boothill

with husband (as Jan Young)- Nonfiction
54-40 Or Fight: The Story of the Oregon Territory

To Save A Tree: The Story of the Coast Redwoods

Forged In Silver: The Story of the Comstock Lode

Liberators Of Latin America

Frontier Scientist: Clarence King

Simon Bolivar: The George Washington of South America

The Last Emperor: The Story of Mexico's Fight for Freedom

Reluctant Warrior: Ulysses S. Grant

The 49'ers: The Story of the California Gold Rush

Plant Detective: David Douglas

Empire Builder: Sam Brannan

Old Rough And Ready, Zachary Taylor

Seven Faces West

Pikes Peak Or Bust

Gusher: The Search for Oil In America

Mr. Polk's War

Anza, Hard-riding Captain

The Story of the Rocky Mountains

with husband (as Jan Young)- Fiction

Across The Tracks

Where Tomorrow?

Run, Sheep, Run (1959)

One Small Voice (1961)

Sunday Dreamer (1962)

Good-bye, Amigos (1963)

The Undecided Heart (1970)


I unfortunately have no access to the cover; an image is available at eBay

About the author


Jane Badger Books has a nice bit on Janet Randall's biographical information

About the publishing house

David McKay Company, Inc.was founded in Philadelphia in 1882 by a 22-year-old Scottish immigrant who'd begun working for J.B. Lippincott & Co. at the tender age of 13. During the 1930s, the company published some of the first comic books, including Popeye, The Phantom and Blondie and Dagwood. The publisher was located on Washington Square, heart of Philadelphia's venerable and now mostly departed publishing industry and to my mind the single most pleasant, most Philadelphian spot in the city after Independence Square, directly catty-corner to the north-east.

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