Friday, September 5, 2008

Smoky the Cowhorse

Finished Smoky the Cowhorse, written and illustrated by Will James. It won the Newbery Medal in 1927. I adored this book.

Smoky is born wild, but later captured and trained as a cowhorse by a cowboy named Clint. Clint has a keen understanding of horses and realizes early on that Smoky is not an average horse. Smoky is very intelligent and willing to learn and eventually becomes the most valuable horse around. Clint forms a very strong attachment to Smoky which adds to the emotional pull and charm of this book.

Sadly, life is not always wonderful for Smoky and a series of negligent and ignorant owners almost put an end to him. My daughter warned me, and I already knew, that almost all animal books, like almost all animal films, have moments of sorrow that are hard to take. Smoky the Cowhorse is no exception.

The story is exciting, even gripping at times. James' illustration are excellent and really portray the sheer mass and strength of horses. The narrator's voice is reminiscent of various characters played by Chill Wills over the years, filled with cowboy twang and vernacular. It really added to my enjoyment of this book.

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