Friday, December 31, 2010

Blueberry (1963)

As a kid I read anything with an equine theme, but I truly loved the few books where the plot remained strongly focused on the kid and the horse. Winning the race, driving the cattle across Texas, capturing the wild stallion, rescuing the trapped foal from quicksand - yes, the big drama plots are nice. But the smaller plots were satisfying. They were the essence of the horse bug for me, those books where girl and horse would just ride around, in the woods and along the river and down to the creek for a swim on a hot summer afternoon.

And then the skein of days went unwinding. There was in them a unique completeness, a fulfillment. When she turned to Blueberry in the blind instinctive way of one in first-love, yet unhurt, the mare was always there. Wherever possible, Kristin moved with the horse at her side. Sometimes in the hot nights, noisy with the sounds of katydids and crickets, or a wakeful bird, she brought her pillow and quilt out to the paddock. The mare became so used to her presence that she wouldn't rise from where she rested, but watched the girl as she made her bed and lay down nearby. Kristin would awake to find the horse had risen and was chewing on her hay or waiting in soft animal fashion for Kristin to direct their day.


Helga Sandburg
1963, The Dial Press

Kristin, a dreamy 14-year-old Michigan girl whose hard-headed father is starting to worry will never learn to study or even just focus, desires a horse.

The summer streamed out before Kristin in a huge empty space of time. Every girl in the eighth grade had been boy-crazy except for Kristin. She was famous for being horse-crazy. Danny had a beat-up sidesaddle which he'd let Kristin strap on a log when she was nine or ten. Sometimes she felt half her life was spent at fantasies; nothing was real. In winters when she dragged her toboggan out on the snow-deep dunes she still called it a golden mare, whispering a name to herself. It was all imagining. She felt fiercely that she ought to have the real thing.

Summer vacation has just started, but 14-year-old Kristin's joy is broken by her father's anger; he's upset that her last report card was bad, that she's consistently forgotten to care for her pet guinea pigs, and that her best friend Danny Wasilewski is a half-Gypsy boy. Kristin has no intention of obeying her father's demand that she have no more to do with Danny, and her regrets about her grades and her wandering responsibilities take a back seat to her longing for a horse. Her two sisters, older and more beautiful and more capable, are strong farm girls whose pride and joy is their goat herd, and all their plans involve agricultural school and farming. They also despair of absent-minded Kristin, but they agree to help her convince their dad to let her buy a little buckskin mare from a carnival.

The mare turned her head, the black mane drooped uncombed, the forelock straggled over her brown eyes; her slender almost-black legs contrasted with the sandy-colored coat. Field burrs had knotted in her tail. Like the others she needed grooming. They looked at each other and as the mare turned back to stand with head drooped, Kristin knew her desire.

Kristin, swearing to improve her grades and bolstered by support from her mother and sisters, convinces her father to buy the little mare named Blueberry. She earns the mare's hay by doing chores for her sisters, and glories in first ownership, riding to the beach and through the woods at all hours of the day and night, having secret picnics with Danny and teaching Blueberry to swim in the lake.

Danny's life is going the other way. His gypsy mother is dead, his Polish father is a grieving, struggling truck-farmer, and he's frequently confronted with people (like Kristin's father) who harbor prejudices against both gypsies and Poles. In the fall, Mr. Wasilewski is so short of money he's forced to send Danny away to live with a harsh uncle, and the boy runs away. Kristin spends a long winter battling grades and time to cram chores, riding, and studying into the too-short hours, lonely for her missing friend.

Kristin's family is one domineering male against a mild wife and three daughters who tend to assume they can overcome his objections. Here and there, throughout the book, are short passages from the father's point of view as he regards, baffled, his womenfolk. Typical of its time, it fiercely presents support for equality and fairness for various people even while maintaining the norm of a girl focusing on a boy's needs and pain. Kristin, repeatedly dubbed a tomboy, is a strong girl, but she is given the womanly instinct of focusing excessively on male trouble.

She knew Uncle Jock figured all boys were in need of subjugation, forgetting Danny'd had a taste of authority while he took over a man's role, caring for his father and the farm.

While this is altogether a fine book with a strong, interesting heroine, several involving plots and a variety of well-developed characters, it's the powerful presentation of the bond between human and horse that makes it stand out.

Bimbo - collie
Smoky - crow
Teddy - Abyssinian guinea pig
Sophie - Nubian goat
Mr. Shams - blue Persian cat
Hurricane - bay gelding
Blueberry - buckskin mare
Red Wolf - chestnut Quarter Horse stallion

About the Author
Helga Sandburg wrote two books about Kristin and her horse, Blueberry (1963) and Gingerbread (1967) . They were set in Michigan, where Helga grew up on a property near Lake Michigan. The youngest of three sisters, Helga had two extremely famous near relatives. Her father was the poet Carl Sandburg and her uncle was the photographer and painter Ed Steichen. She was close to her mother, and the two of them began raising dairy goats at their Michigan home in the 1930s. She attended the University of Chicago, married three times and wrote several books.

Cleveland Woman - Helga Sandburg
Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library - The Dial Press
The Dial Press - Random House
Dial Books For Young Readers - Penguin

Other Books (equine)
Gingerbread (1967) - sequel

The Dial Press
Founded in 1923, it changed hands several times. With third owner B.C. Hoffman, it began publishing more popular novels, including the inestimable Frank Yerby's 1945 novel The Foxes Of Harrow. It was bought out by Dell Publishing Company during the 1960s; Dell was bought by Doubleday in 1976. The children's division was sold to Dutton, which eventually ended up with Penguin (owned by media giant Pearson) while the adult imprint survives as part of Random House.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year, New Books

And a short list of upcoming horsey fiction for the new year.

The A Circuit
by Catherine Hapka and Georgina Bloomberg (May 24, 2011) (Bloomsbury) (YA)

Belladona by Mary Finn (June 14, 2011) Candlewick

The Black Stallion And The Lost City by Steven Farley (June 28, 2011)

New in Paperback
Saddled by Susan Richards (1/6/2011) Houghton Mifflin (memoir)

Horse Diaries: Yatimah by Ruth Sanderson (January 2011) (Random House) (child series)
Raven Speak by Diane Lee Wilson (April 26, 2011)

I Can Read Books - Pony Scouts by Catherine Hapka and Anne Kennedy
At The Show (May 3, 2011)
Back In The Saddle (March 8 , 2011)

Breyer Horse Portrait Collection by Annie Wedekind

Mercury's Flight: The Story of a Lipizzaner Stallion (June 21, 2011)

Picture Books
Race The Wild Wind by Sandra Markle and Layne Johnson (July 19, 2011) Walker Books for Young Readers

New printings
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, with foreword by Monty Roberts, afterword by Lucy Grealy (1/4/2011) Penguin Putnam

Odds N Ends - Romance with mini horse
Here To Stay
by Catherine Anderson (1/25/2011)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Runaway Pony, Runaway Dog (1963)

Tough Enough whined. The little dog was worried. He cocked his large ears forward; his eyes were restless, alert. He knew something was wrong with Sassy, his pony friend. The pony was limping toward a tempting clump of grass. Tough Enough was trotting along beside him. When the pony put his nose down to the grass, the dog whimpered softly and touched Sassy's nose with his.

A little dog and a chestnut Banker pony are best friends living in the Great Smoky Mountains on the Tuttle farm, adored by young owner Beanie Tuttle. But Sassy has a hurt leg, and when the two are sent off for a stay at the local vet hospital they don't understand why they've been exiled. Sassy manages to jump out of his field, and the two run away to search for their home.

Every now and then, Sassy would spread his nostrils and toss his head. Tough Enough's tail was up and waving. They were going home. They were sure of that.

They're caught by a mildly villainous character named Will Bumgarner, whose soft spot for animals has led him to maintain a roadside zoo. A generally kind man who helps Sassy's leg heal, he also maintains a collection of depressed wild animals in stout cages. Reluctant to part with his new pets, Will makes them a highlight of his zoo by dressing pony and dog in costumes for the customers, and resorts to defensively telling his wife it'd be a cruelty to send the nice little animals back to some hillbilly farm to work their lives out.

When they finally do escape, they revel in being free -

Both were finding happiness in roaming through sun-warmed, sweet-scented brush, in drinking from cold, rushing brooks, in hearing the steady whisper of water over rocks, in splashing and swimming in clear pools.

- unaware that their grieving owners are one step behind and heartbroken to discover they've just missed their pets. More adventures and dangers come between the animals and their family, but could there be a doubt that there's a homecoming?

I remember being somewhat leery of this book as a child. Beautiful illustrations, but the book's target audience is fairly young for the level of scariness. The length, very simple language and brief sentences indicates it's intended for intermediate independent readers but there are several disturbing scenes where the animals imprisoned or attacked, and they're starved nearly to death by the end of the book. There's also a fair amount of preachiness, from the idealistically poor-but-honest Tuttles to the anti-zoo emphasis and the general depiction of tourists as ignorant, backward and violent.

On the positive side are the lushly beautiful illustrations (though I still think Ruth's black and white drawings are even more beautiful, see the links below to the Hounds In Print blog about Scuffles for a lovely set of dog pictures.) Also, the writing is strong within the limitations imposed by the age of the audience, and major characters tend to be given more depth than is usual in a book for young children.

This is the final book in a 7-book series about the Tatum family and their many pets. The detailed pastel pencil illustrations were the faithful result of years hiking in the area for the Carrolls, who were originally from New York but who moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 1950 and used their talents to counter stereotypes of Appalachia natives as ignorant, backward, and violent.

The Great Smoky Mountains cover parts of Tennessee and North Carolina, and contain both the Southern Appalachian mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Idle googling and polio

The book is dedicated "For the Children in the Asheville Orthopedic Hospital." I googled it mainly to be thorough, as it appeared to be a worthy but not particularly exciting interest of the authors. But it is, actually, a bit interesting. The hospital was originally for children with developmental disabilities, but changed with the polio outbreak into a regional center for treating polio patients, mostly children. I watched a documentary on polio a few months ago, and it was fascinating. They made the point that the fear of polio was somewhat irrational, considering the relatively low number of patients and the relatively low rate of patients who died or were crippled by the disease, and that the crusade against it was something of a political scheme. And yet it remains a major sense of triumph in the collective imagination - the defeat of a scourge that killed and crippled children, a moral quest, the proof that human science could defeat implacable disease, evidence that we could apply gumption and dimes and send a killer virus packing. And does it matter, the complicating facts that there was more to the story? Or does it just go to prove that humans are natural storytellers, with an instinct to pick and choose our stories based largely on what feels narratively right, even in the absence of campfires and in the presence of Wikileaks and 24/7 news?

And, to make that little segue a little more horse-worthy, a list of horse books with polio themes. There's Vian Smith's 1966 novel King Sam (which I know by the American title, Tall And Proud), whose young heroine, Gail, refuses to work at recovering from a bout of polio until a retired racehorse gives her a reason to try to walk again. There's also a Josephine Pullein-Thompson book, Show Jumping Secret (1955), which has a male protagonist with a disabled leg from polio. In Stranger Than Fiction (1984), Joyce Stranger did a fictionalized bio of a polo player who suffered a childhood bout of polio. From Australia, there's Alan Marshall's autobiographical I Can Jump Puddles (1955), which chronicles the author's experiences as a kid who got polio. The sections concerning his efforts to ride again despite having only one strong leg pop up in horse anthologies sometimes. And, of course, there's Marguerite Henry's Mustang, Wild Spirit Of The West (1966) in which the heroine recovers from a childhood polio attack.

About the authors/illustrators
Ruth Robinson Carroll (1899-1999) was the illustrator, but she was also a co-author with husband Archer Latrobe Carroll (1894-1996). The two were originally from New York, but became fascinated with the Southern Appalachia region and moved to Asheville, North Carolina in 1950.

Archer was a 1918 Harvard graduate who had an undergrad short story "The Butterfly In The Fog" published in The Best College Short Stories 1917-1918. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, then worked as an editor and staff writer for various companies until beginning a freelance career. Ruth was a Vassar graduate who went to art school and did the illustrations for all their collaborations. They married in 1928. Their first collaboration was The Luck Of The Roll And Go.

Other Books in series
Beanie (1953)
Tough Enough (1954)
Tough Enough's Trip (1956)
Tough Enough's Pony (1957)
Tough Enough And Sassy (1958)
Tough Enough's Indians (1960)

Other Books - animals
Pet Tales (1949)
Peanut (1952)
Salt And Pepper (1952)
Digby The Only Dog (1955)
Scuffles (1963)
Danny And The Poi Pup (1965)
The Picnic Bear (1966)
The Managing Hen And The Floppy Hound (1972)
Hullabaloo, The Elephant Dog (1975)
The Christmas Kitten

Other Books
The Luck Of The Roll And Go (1935)
Flight Of The Silver Bird (1939)
The Flying House (1946)
School In The Sky (1949)

The Tatum Family Series essay by Judy Teaford
Revisiting The Tatum family essay by Judy Teaford
The de Grummond Collection
The University of Oregon guide to the Carroll papers there
Ponymad Booklovers on the Carrolls and the Tatum series
"The Butterfly In The Fog" at Google Books
AskArt on Ruth Carroll
Asheville, North Carolina website
The Mounatin XPress about the Orthopedic Hospital
The National Park Service - The Great Smoky Mountains
Wikipedia on the Appalachias

Links to other blog reviews of the Carroll books
Peanut at Vintage Kids' Books
Peanut at Hounds In Print
Scuffles at Hounds In Print

And just to note, Hounds In Print is my neglected blog on dog books.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Black Stallion's Filly (1952)

The Black Stallion's Filly
Walter Farley, il. Milton Menasco
1952, Random House

Black Minx came into the ring held firmly by the white-coated attendants who handled all the horses up for sale. She was coal black and small. She had a quick, competent walk as she was led about the ring, and it was apparent to those who watched her that her limited size was misleading, for she had more muscle than was noticeable at first glance. Her head was light and beautiful with great breadth between sharp eyes, a slightly dished nose, a narrow muzzle and sensitive nostrils. Her only disfigurement was a short tail, so short that it was barely more than a stump.

Henry Daily, bored with life on Hopeful Farm after he retires Satan from the track, decides to buy himself a racehorse. He buys a two-year-old filly by the Black despite her dubious history (she took her last jockey through the rail, breaking his collarbone), sure he can fix her. Alec, content to stay home at the farm, isn't so sure, but in his quiet, reliable way decides not to argue but do everything he can to help his old friend achieve his goal - to have this wild, wilfull, contrary filly whose last race ended in the infield, ready to run in America's premiere classic, the Kentucky Derby. And win.

...[Alec] went back in memory to the days when Henry had taken him and the Black under his wing, when Henry had encouraged him to race the Black because he had confidence in Alec's ability to handle the stallion on the racetrack. At the time, Henry's enthusiasm had sounded just as fantastic... But it had turned out the way Henry had said it would. He had ridden the Black to victory over the best horses in the country.

First, Henry and Alec have to fix the filly's horrible ground manners, which include biting and kicking. In a sequence which is ground indelibley into the minds of anyone who reads the book, Henry finally resorts to a baked potato to cure Black Minx's willingness to bite. I won't spoil it by quoting, but that chapter alone makes the book worth reading.

While Henry is the trainer, Alec is the jockey and he quickly realizes that the filly's other issues are nothing compared to her indifference to racing. She has speed, but when Alec tries to work her faster, the filly placidly continues at the same pace as before, ignoring his urging to speed up. Henry's face, always grim, matches the winter weather of their New York state farm as he ponders how to best Black Minx and make her a racehorse.

In the meantime, Henry and Alec watch the televised races of warm-weather racing from Florida and California, where other Derby hopefuls are being honed. California darling Golden Vanity shows blistering speed in winning the Santa Anita Derby, Eastern colt Silver Jet lives up to his status as an early Derby favorite by winning the Flamingo Stakes, a filly named Lady Lee in the Louisiana Derby, and Wintertime and Eclipse in the Experimental.

An interesting book in that gruff, rough Henry has something personal on the line this time, and even loyal Alec sometimes wonders if he's seeing clearly. Farley's racing books tended to give the reader an extensive look at the competition, which creates a sense of realism, showing Henry and Alec studying the races of the horses and jockeys they'll be going up against in the Derby.

Black Minx - black filly
Golden Vanity - 17h chestnut colt
Moonstruck - bay colt
Silver Jet - grey colt
Lady Lee - filly
Wintertime - blood bay colt
Eclipse - brown colt

Ruth Sanderson paperback from the 1970s.

The most recent paperback edition.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Horse That Had Everything (1965)

The Horse That Had Everything
Newlin B. Wildes, il. Albert Micale
1966, Rand McNally & Company, American Education Publications

"Animals, animals," Kink said morosely. "The halt and the lame. They always seem to be with us."

Widower Kink Jonathan, an artist with a growing reputation, has chosen to live in rural Vermont with his 14-year-old son Rick, and they've gradually accumulated an assortment of animals. But Rick loves horses, and is a regular fixture at their neighbor's racing farm, where he forms an attachment to the crooked foal of the mare Never Fear. When the farm's cold-blooded owner, Slade Corcoran, decides to kill the crippled foal, Rick successfully begs him for another chance.

Rick raises the colt, who he eventually dubs Sans Peur, and with loving care and exercise the crooked leg straightens. And as the colt grows bigger and stronger and faster, the pressure mounts for Rick to turn his backyard pet into a racehorse.

This books holds an entertaining if typical premise, but is spoiled by a lack of pace. Wildes's writing is good enough piece by piece, with convincing action and a nice writing style -

Suzi took the saddle and bridle off Ulysses. He and the colt exchanged sniffs and got along, plucking grass side by side. They knew each other.

April is not the best month in Vermont. It often snows, the trees are still gaunt skeletons, the mud is not always gone. Nevertheless, there is promise of better things. Some days are, as the farmers' wives say, like a good apple pie: "warm in the middle and crisp around the edges." Cows are rough-coated in barnyards. Horses are shaggy, wandering in the fields searching for early blades of grass.

- but it doesn't have a natural flow. Scenes either inch along or jump sharply. Individual scenes are quite strong, but only for very brief moments and then the action lurches again. The major weakness, however, is the underlining of the major plot points instead of letting the reader infer them from the writing, which actually does a very good job if the author had only trusted it.

There are also two tedious minor plots in the growing awareness of the maturing Rick that neighbor Suzi isn't just an inferior girl anymore but a Girl, and the sometimes grating comparison between the big Thoroughbred San and Suzi's short, shaggy Morgan.

I read the book during this year's epic snowstorm, and seized on this bit -

Whenever there was a thaw and the snow became heavy and apt to cake on the colt's feet, Rick would rub butter all over the inside of San's hoofs to keep the snow from balling up there and twisting an ankle. "Darn expensive way to keep a horse's feet snow-free," Kink grumbled, when Rick disappeared with another quarter pound.

- to try with my dog, who also suffers snow buildup on walks. It works, but there are drawbacks. One, the dog clearly thinks you're mentally unstable for rubbing a stick of butter on her paws. Two, you end up taking a walk with hands coated in butter, which is great for dry winter skin but not so great for the general health of your mittens or your own sense of neatness. Three, it wears off fast, particularly if your dog discovers that her feet now taste great.

Equines and others
Ulysses S. Grant - Morgan gelding
Never Fear - grey Thoroughbred mare
Mon Oncle - Thoroughbred stallion
Sans Peur - grey Thoroughbred colt
Times Three - bay Thoroughbred colt
Abraham - donkey
Thomas Jefferson "TJ" Tibbs - large tiger cat
Albert - Plymouth Rock rooster

The New England-based Wildes worked for Photoplay and then joined Curtis Publishing at their Boston office in 1937. The 1942 Gene Autry western Heart Of The Rio Grande was based on one of his stories.

Other Books
The Best Summer (1965)

Short Stories - horse
"Young Man On The Way Up" in Wildfire, The Red Stallion and Other Great Horse Stories

Short Stories - various
The Saturday Evening Post, May 20, 1944 - "Gold In Your Backyard"
Companion, July 1945 - "Little Guy"
Companion, June 1946 - "Crazy Like A Fox"
Liberty, September 1947
Colliers, September 5, 1936 - "Foot In The Door"
Ladies Home Journal, April, 1946 - "A Matter Of Style"
"Powderpuf" - football

Illustrator - Albert Micale
An artist who specialized in comics, particularly Westerns, Micale's versions of Roy Rogers adventures are some of the most sought after by collectors. He also illustrated children's nonfiction, and some fiction.

Other horse-related books
The Best Summer by Newlin B. Wildes (1964)
The Capture Of West Wind by Rutherford B. Montgomery (1962)
Trouble At Paintrock: A Penny Of Paintrock Mystery by Jane and Paul Annixter

And because we mentioned Roy...
Trigger, the palomino stallion who was Roy's equine pardner, was (along with the singing cowboy's German Shepherd Dog, Bullet) stuffed after death. The two were auctioned off this summer, along with Dale Evan's horse Buttermilk and Trigger backup Little Trigger. Trigger and Bullet ended up with RFD-TV. The Nebraska-based cable network is named after the old U.S. Postal Service designation for rural addresses - Rural Free Delivery - and specializes in rural programming, from cattle auctions to bluegrass to Hee Haw. The two are now on tour to various appropriately themed events. RFD-TV has also revived a kids' fan club from the old Roy Rogers television show, the Roy Rogers Riders Club, which is unbearably bittersweet.

The Publisher
American Education Publication was a new one to me, so I googled. Apparently, it was the publisher of the school newspapers My Weekly Reader and Current Events, as well as other educational work, and owned by Wesleyan University Press until Xerox bought it in 1965. They changed its name to Xerox Education Publications in 1972.

Kiddie Matinees (for the AEP info)
Weekly Reader
A list of Wilds's short stories
Comic Creator about Albert Micale
Luxist about the auction of Trigger and Bullet
RFD's Happy Trails Tour

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Scarlet Royal (1952)

This is one of those books I had as a kid and remember with great fondness. The review below has almost no quotes largely because my copy is now extremely fragile. Just re-reading it pulled loose some pages; propping it open with a candlestick or flower pot so I can copy some quotes will kill it altogether. So I'll limit myself to the summary on the back cover, which does a good job.

The only thing in Margo's life that really counted was the horses themselves: riding them, hunting, showing, caring for them, loving them. Especially her own horse, Scarlet Royal - hers until the wealthy Cranshaws offered more than the struggling Macintyre's could afford to refuse. Be nice to the Cranshaws, her mother said. How could she like Ginevra Cranshaw who went off with her beloved horse and her best boy friend?
A story of sportsmanship and courage by the author of Senior Year.

Scarlet Royal
Anne Emery, il. Charles Waterhouse (cover)
1952, Macrae Smith Company

Margo Macintyre is 15 when her mare, Red Queen, produces a chestnut filly dubbed Scarlet Royal. The foal is to be the final triumph for Margo's father, William, an Irish immigrant whose rags-to-riches story has culminated in a gentleman's farm, Green Meadow, filled with horses, an adoring wife, three daughters, a cook, a housekeeper and a groom.

Jump ahead two years. William Macintyre is newly dead, killed by the stress of seeing his real-estate venture fail, and his widow presents their daughters with reality: they have a farm and horses, but virtually no income. They can either sell out and go live more frugally in an apartment, or they can try to launch a riding school. Relieved to save their beloved home, they agree to tackle domestic and stable chores none of them have ever handled. It's not easy, but they are making it work by the end of that first summer. Margo and her sisters help teach the beginners and their mother, Madeleine, has a private student who's more advanced. It's this student, Ginevra Cranshaw, who brings Margo's world crashing back down. A competitive, calculating daughter of rich and indifferent parents, Ginevra has only one interest in a horse - can it win for her. In Scarlet, she sees a horse who can take her to the Maclay Finals, and win her parents' attention at last. When Mr. Cranshaw offers Margo a price the family can't afford to refuse, a beaten Margo sells the mare.

When, adding insult to injury, Ginevra also walks off with Margo's boyfriend, the now 17-year-old Margo declares she's never going to trust another man. Shortly thereafter, the Macintyres hire a college student to work on the farm, and Neil begins to patiently prod Margo away from her bitterness and obsession with somehow winning back her lost horse.

This is a well-written book with a thin but consistent horse plot, and a strongly sympathetic heroine. It has a powerful hook in that the heroine actually loses the horse, and is also one of those great horsey books where the villain is the villain because she doesn't care about horses; she's a good rider, but she doesn't have the right attitude. Margo's love for Scarlet is criticized, but she remains focused on rescuing the mare, although she admits she's being selfish in some ways. It's a balanced book, which is typical of Emery. Her books were all teen romances, but they were intelligent and her characters were surprisingly complex. They were also far more feminist than you'd expect from the genre. Here, she kills off the blarneying father in under 10 pages, and he's virtually never mentioned again. The all-female family manages to resurrect its fortunes almost alone, with no male advice until the romance angle begins with the hiring of Neil Campbell, college kid from Wyoming, who quickly becomes annoyingly perfect - he charms the Macintyres, cleans stalls, knows horse shows, sorrowfully points out Margo's faults re: obsessing over Scarlet, etc., etc. He does a pretty good job of redeeming himself, though.

Note: The cover shown is from the 1961 paperback by Scholastic Book Services's TAB Books. The original 1951 Macrae Smith hardcover apparently contains interior illustrations by Manning deV. Lee; there is one illustration of his in the paperback, serving as a frontspiece.

The book, along with Emery's others, is back in print with Image Cascade, which publishes fondly recalled teen novels of the mid-20th century.

Odds and Ends

Equine Characters

Scarlet Royal - chestnut filly
Red Queen - chestnut mare
Counterpoint - grey hunter gelding
Gingham Girl - Welsh pony
Domino - black hunter gelding
Bittersweet - bay hunter gelding
Kingpin - Ginevra's jumper
Coquette - Ginevra's saddle horse

I don't remember noticing the name Ginevra as a kid (I was too busy booing her evil, crop-swishing ways) but this time around it caught my eye as a strange name. According to some fairly random research, it's either Welsh meaning "white, fair, smooth" and is a form of Guinevere, or Italian meaning "white wave." It was also the name of a Chicago socialite from the early 20th century thought to have inspired Fitzgerald's Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. Since Emery was a Chicago girl all her life, and since writers are magpies and since people with roots tend to be people who inherit the memories of their parents and grandparents, you have to wonder if she had that story somewhere in mind when she named her spoiled, wealthy villain.

Image Cascade - Scarlet Royal

Author Bio
Anne Eleanor McGuigan was the eldest of five children with a father who was a professor. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1928, spent a year traveling with her family, and then began teaching. She married John Emery in 1933, and had five children. She lived in Evanston, Illinois most of her life, and that Chicago suburb is where most of her books are set.

The illustrators
The paperback's cover and its sole illustration aren't particularly memorable, which is odd considering both artists were respected illustrators with decent careers. I'm not 100% sure of my research on the cover illustrator, Charles Waterhouse; there is an American artist of that name who seems to have specialized in military paintings; the name fits, and the timing is possible, but I'm not sure. There's no direct link - nothing about the Marine Corp. artist mentions this book - and the art itself doesn't seem very similar.

The frontspiece illustrator, Manning deV. Lee (1894-1980) was a graduate of Philadelphia's spectacular old art school, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He served in WWI, and then resumed his career as an illustrator for magazines and over 200 books.

Manning deV. Lee - other horse illustrations
The Stubborn Mare by Jo Sykes (1957)
Steel Dust, The Story of A Horse by Hoffman Birney (1928)
Horses, Horses, Horses edited by Phyllis R. Fenner (1951)
Cowboys, Cowboys, Cowboys, ed. Phyllis R. Fenner (
Sidi, Boy Of The Desert by Alida Malkus (1956)
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (1925 edition by Macrae Smith)
Dogs, Dogs, Dogs, ed. Phyllis R. Fenner

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A pretty new version of Black Beauty

Penguin is bringing out a new paperback edition of Anna Sewell's classic, Black Beauty.