Sunday, December 27, 2015

Robin Kane: The Mystery of the Blue Pelican (1966)

Robin Kane: The Mystery of the Blue Pelican
Eileen Hill, il. Sylvia Haggander
1966, A Whitman Book, Western Publishing Co.

Robin Kane, 13, lives in Pacific Point, California with her parents, 14-year-old brother Kevin and younger sister Amy.  Best friend Melinda Hunter’s father Maxfield is a film and TV producer who’s bringing his latest project Changeling to town and casting the Kane kids and his own stable of palomino horses – including Robin’s beloved Nugget – as extras.  Most excitingly, the star of Changeling is teen sensation Moira Rafferty, and she’s going to visit the Kane household!

This is the first book of the series, and at best, it’s just too simple to be an enjoyable read for an adult. And there are a few too many mid-century nightmares, from Mexican mamacitas to Irishmen lilting charmingly about leprechauns. I’m going to be lazy here and refer you to another website for a nice summation of the book. I quit after the third chapter. In my defense, I was reading it for this blog and Robin’s reaction to hearing her horse had vanished is to be sad, finish dinner and go to bed for some bad dreams about her lost horse.  Not very horse-book-heroine, Robin.  Her horse, Nugget, doesn’t actually appear until near the end, so overall not really a great example of a pony/horse book.

More complete review at Lost Classics of Teen Lit, 1939-1989

The Mystery of the Blue Pelican
The Mystery of the Phantom
The Mystery of Glengary Castle
The Candle Shop Mystery
Mystery in the Clouds
The Monster of Wolf Point

Friday, December 25, 2015

Flying Roundup (1957)

Flying Roundup
Genevieve Torrey Eames, il. Lorence F. Bjorklund
1957, Julian Messner, Inc.

The noise grew louder and around the base of the mountain came a small band of horses, manes and tails flying and a cloud of dust swirling about them, kicked up by their galloping hoofs.  Johnny’s heart raced at the sight.  The leaders started into the valley, halted and swerved away again.  Then, above the hoofbeats, came the roar of a motor and a small yellow plane swung into sight, following the horses and flying so low it seemed almost to skim the brush and willows along the stream.  As the horses hesitated it circled out to head them off and then roared up behind them, sending them in a mad stampede up the valley.

Johnny Shaw is dozing, postponing the end of a camping trip, when he sees a roundup of wild horses, dominated by an airplane.  The scene is brutal – the terrified herd runs down and crushes a foal, and the cowboys frankly tell Johnny that the wild horses being driven into a truck are destined for a cannery – but Johnny’s torn.  The pilot is the father of his two best friends, Dan and Linda Cameron.  Vern is newly home from Korea, and trying to use his Air Force skills to tide over his new ranch.  Johnny recognizes the family’s genuine need, but when he spots an overlooked band of wild horses, he heads into the hills to find a way to get them moving before anyone else spots them.

There are two kinds of children’s books – those where the villains are the villains, and those where the villains are really just people you don’t know well enough.  This is the latter.  Johnny comes to understand where Vern’s coming from, and how the money from his flying roundups is intended for good, and somehow the early scene with the agonized foal is overwritten.  It’s not very satisfying. 

About the Author

Other books by Eames (horse)
Pat Rides The Trail (1946) il. Dan Noonan
A Horse To Remember (1947) il. Paul Brown
The Good Luck Colt (1953) il. Paul Brown
Ghost Town Cowboy (1957) il. Paul Brown

Other books by Eames (dog)
Handy of the Triple S (1949) il. Paul Brown

Short Stories
Jarvis Discovers Gold" appears in the anthology Horses, Horses, Horses: Palominos And Pintos, Polo Ponies And Plow Horses, Morgans And Mustangs edited by Phyllis Fenner
Someday I’ll Race Him in Young Wings – the Magazine of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club