Thursday, July 22, 2010

The American Girl Book Of Horse Stories (1946)

The American Girl Book Of Horse Stories

selected by the editors of American Girl magazine, il. Sam Savitt

1946, Girl Scouts of the United States

shown: 1971 Scholastic edition

I ask you, what would you do if you woke up to find yourself in a perfectly strange room, with a horse staring in the window at you, with daisies in its mouth?

Palomino Cupid by Frances Priddy

An older collection of short stories which lean toward the romantic teen angle. It was compiled by the editors of American Girl, a magazine published by the Girl Scouts Of America during much of the twentieth century.

Some of the stories stand out - the language of "Sundance" and the humor of "Palomino Cupid" in particular - but most are simply adequate romance stories with an equine slant. I remember this book fondly, but I have to admit the overall writing quality isn't high. The collection does manage to cover most of the most common horsey tropes - flashy palominos, wild black stallions, yearningly horseless girls, and the battle between being an equestrian and being a girl - at the same time it covers so many teen romance points, from rich boy/poor girl to practical girl/dreamy boy. A nice read, but the stories don't quite live up to the usual good Savitt illustrations.

Short stories

"Danger Rides The River Road" by Margaret Leighton

"Beautiful And Free" by Carolyn St. Clair King

"Fiesta Parade" by Eleanor Hoffmann

"A Touch Of Arab" by Vivian Breck

"Sundance" by June Hall Mills

"Palomino Cupid" by Frances Priddy

"Two For The Show" by Ellsworth Newcomb

"A Horse In Her Future" by Margaret Burrage

"Ana Paula And The Golden Horse" by Marian Garthwaite

"Tall As The Stars" by Janet Lambert

"Danger Rides The River Road" by Margaret Leighton

In Revolutionary America, young Lavinia (who prefers to be called Vinnie) is faithfully caring for her brother's young horse, Robin, when the British arrive in search of mounts. Vinnie, desperate to save Robin, pushes the chestnut jumper into the parlor, just as her persnickety aunt Hortense opens the front door to a charming English lieutenant.

Robin's hoofs beat a drumming tattoo on the frozen turf of the meadow. Faster, faster! Vinnie leaned forward, gathering the reins on his neck. "Up, boy!" she cried. The big chestnut cleared the high rail fence superbly, with hardly a break in his stride.

"Beautiful And Free" by Carolyn St. Clair King

15-year-old Gil Bronson, son of a broke rancher, enters a race to catch a wild stallion, hoping to win the reward money to finance his further education. But the violence and intelligence of the horse dubbed the Black Prince makes him hesitate.

Leaping hastily to his feet, Gil gazed upward, and there above him on the rim saw the wide, red nostrils and gleaming eyes of the cornered Prince.

"Fiesta Parade" by Eleanor Hoffmann

Julie is a tomboy who lives for her horse, Topaz, and the wild scenery of her southern California home in the Santa Inez Valley. The course of one parade changes everything, as Julie makes a sacrifice for her polio-crippled cousin, Kate, and catches the eye of the boy next door.

Julie needed every minute of these last three days for grooming her beautiful Topaz and rubbing up the silver conchas on his saddle so that in the whole long fiesta parade of five hundred horses, no animal would glitter like her dazzling young palomino.

"A Touch Of Arab" by Vivian Breck

14-year-old Meggie Mallory and her father are on their annual camping trip in the Sierra Nevada mountains with her horse Cirque - "a Western stock horse with just a touch of Arab" - when he announces she's too insular and he's going to sell Cirque to force her to make friends. In the time remaining, she befriends absent-minded older teen Wakefield, and when a flood hits, she and her horse must go to the rescue.

"Come on, Cirque," I whispered, wishing my bare heels were spurs. In a moment, the current was swirling around his knees. He planted his forefeet on the bottom and refused to budge.

"Sundance" by June Hall Mills

Lissa, heartbroken, watches her beloved horse being loaded roughly into a trailer; her family has sold their bust sheep ranch and is moving to town. The big operation that's bought the place is owned by the father of a childhood friend, Ted, who Lissa is now all too aware of being wealthy and assured.

Fifteen, freckled and wind-blown, she had known contentment. Riding Sundance, the world was hers. Hers the bitter taste of alkali dust and the harsh glitter of the sun in a parched land; a fleeting glimpse of a wildcat, green eyes elequent with hate; the lonely, stirring cry of coyotes; the blessed smell of rain, foretelling the brief glory of rose and ivory cactus blooming in careless rapture; the pungent tang of pine needles, chewed in contemplation; and the sweet, sad cooing of mourning doves.

"Palomino Cupid" by Frances Priddy

A smart teenager discovers that the way to a standoffish boy's heart lies through his adored horse, Golden Boy. But other girls have already tried that, and boy and horse can all too easily see through the usual ploys.

"Two For The Show" by Ellsworth Newcomb

Millie wants to show her horse, the aged former Army mount Mr. Bones, at the big show, but fears humiliation and agrees to borrow a friend's talented young jumper, particularly since a malicious classmate takes every chance to heckle her about Bones.

"Don't look now," she said loudly, "but that's an exhibitor's tag Millie's wearing along with those priceless dungarees. Friends, I do believe she's entered that Army nag of hers in the junior-miss class. We'd better watch our steps."

"A Horse In Her Future" by Margaret Burrage

15-year-old Darlene is poor but hopeful about someday getting her own horse instead of just working around the local riding academy. Her usual annoyance at wealthy, bratty Michele turns to sympathy when she realizes the other girl's also lonely amidst the horsey crowd at the barn.

Darlene Manners leaned one shoulder against the wide doors of Barn One and watched wistfully as Hank Cenno, riding master of the 7-Hills Riding Academy, led his pupils on another ride.

"Ana Paula And The Golden Horse" by Marian Garthwaite

In early California, a Spanish girl who loves to ride is aware of the disapproval of her grandmother but can't seem to be the traditional lady the old woman expects.

The animal's golden coat was shining in the sun, his silvery mane and tail blowing in the wind. He was tossing his head, stepping high with pride of breeding. This was an Ysabella - a true palomino - the favorite horse of the dons.

"Tall As The Stars" by Janet Lambert

Army brats Judy and Cynthia are sisters, but while Judy's a forthright tomboy, Cynthia's a cunning flirt. When it comes to the big horse show on their Army post home, Cynthia manages to talk her sister into swapping her well-trained horse, Jack Snipe, for Cynthia's neglected Charlemagne.

Judy knew how clear the notes of reveillle sounded, floating across the early morning air; with what precision the soldiers drilled on the parade ground, marching proudly under the watchful folds of Old Glory. She loved the sunset gun that stopped the girls and boys on bicycles, the roller skaters, the people in their cars, and held them at attention while the great flag slid slowly down into waiting arms. She loved it all, especially the peaceful sound of taps proclaiming that all was well.


Margaret Leighton

Leighton wrote at least 17 books, mostly juvenile bios and children's adventures, but only one was horse-related. Comanche Of The Seventh (1957) - the story of the horse who survived Little Big Horn. She also wrote two other books centering on Custer: a juvenile bio of the man himself The Story Of General Custer, and a juvenile biography of his wife Bride Of Glory: The Story Of Elizabeth Bacon Custer.

Carolyn St. Clair King

King apparently wrote romances under the name Sally Lockhart.

Eleanor Hoffmann

I couldn't find anything reliable about her.

Vivian Breck was a psuedonym for Vivian Gurney Breckenfeld (1895-1992). She seems to have written mostly adventure and romance novels for teens. Titles include Maggie (1954), High Trail (1955), and White Water (1958); Hoofbeats On The Trail (1950) appears to be her sole horse book. San Francisco born, she was a 1915 Vassar grad who became a teacher and a mother. She lived in California all her life, and was a passionate hiker who loved the High Sierras, which is reflected in her work.

June Hall Mills

I couldn't find anything reliable about her.

Frances Priddy

She seems to have written two horse books, The Grand Rogue (1958) and Barbie (1960).

Ellsworth Newcomb (1909-1971)

Newcomb was married to another writer, Hugh Kenny, who wrote science articles. They lived in Connecticut, and Ellsworth appeared to write mainly teen novels.

Margaret Burrage

I couldn't find anything reliable about her.

Marian Garthwaite

Prolific writer who wrote historical fiction for children and teens. Books include: Coarse Gold Gulch (1956), The Locked Crowns (1963), The Twelth Night Santons (1965), Shaken Days (1952), Bright Particular Star, Holdup On Bootjack Hill (1967), Tomas And The Red-Headed Angel (1950), The Mystery Of Skull Cap Island, You Just Never Know (1955), Mario,

Janet Lambert

An Indiana native who wrote many teen novels, including one horse series. The Dria Meredith trilogy includes Star Dream (1951), Summer For Seven (1952), and High Hurdles (1955). She drew heavily on her own experiences on stage and as an Army wife, and her various series are among the most fondly remembered of the many mid-20th century teen romance novels. They have been re-released by Image Cascade.


The University of Southern Mississippi -- de Grummond Children's Literature Collection - Margaret Leighton

Jane Badger Books on Margaret Leighton

Denver Library collection - Carolyn St. Clair King

The University of Southern Mississippi -- de Grummond Children's Literature Collection - Vivian Breck

Open Library on Frances Priddy

Jane Badger Books on Frances Priddy

Janet Lambert at Jane Badger Books

School Girl Shamus on Janet Lambert
Janet Lambert at The Malt Shop
Janet Lambert at Image Cascade

Girl Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America

Wikipedia on the Girl Scouts

Related Note

There is a very similar horse anthology, The Boys' Life Book Of Horse Stories. The contents differ, but it uses Savitt as an illustrator and the covers are virtual twins. It was also identical to this book in that it was put out by the Boy Scouts of America, from their magazine, Boys' Life.

Its ten stories include: Wild Bronc by Kerry Wood, Tale of Two Horses by B J Chute, The Black Outlaw by Stephen Payne, Wild Horse Roundup by Glenn Balch, Ride the Rough String by D.S. Halacy, Jr., The Curb Bit by Carl Henry Rathjen, The Mudhen, V S by Merritt P. Allen, Horse With Cow Savvy by Joseph Stocker, Sacrifice Spurs by Carl Henry Rathjen, and Boss Of The Cross-O by Stephen Payne.


MelmoK said...

I just stumbled across this blog today. I've been attempting to collect the horse books from my youth for my daughter. This was one of my favorites and I was finally able to find it on ebay.

I searched your blog and didn't yet find two I had stumbled across years ago.

Pounding Hooves by Dorothy G. Johnston
and Springtime of Khan (and it's sequal Summer by the Sea) by Marian Flandrick Bray

Sarah said...

I have a copy of Pounding Hooves waiting to be read (more palominos!) but I've never heard of Springtime of Khan - I googled Bray, and I do recognize Summer By The Sea's cover, so I must have come across it at some point. I find the niche of Christian horsey fiction kinda interesting, so I'll have to read Pounding Hooves and look for the other two. Thanks for reading!