Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Old Friends on the Shelf: Horse Books by Walter Farley

There are almost always books at the estate sales I attend.  Indeed, I feel rather sad when I go inside a house where there are no books.

Used books are my absolute favorites.  Except for new books by Jan Karon, Alexander McCall Smith, and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, I don't think I've bought a new fiction book in well over a decade.  I do keep a few electronic books handy for when I'm traveling, but generally speaking there's nothing like the feel, the style, the illustrations of an old book.

The selection of books at an estate sale depends, of course, on the previous readers.  I like to look for three kinds of books:

-- Hardback copies of paperback books I have enjoyed and would like to own
-- Books I never read before, but would like to read now (and not pay $3.99 postage for, by ordering online)
-- Books I read as a child, that I want to read again and share with other children

That's why I was so pleased to find two old children's books by Walter Farley at a recent estate sale:  Little Black, A Pony (above) and Big Black Horse.

When I was a kid, my friends and I read everything Walter Farley wrote, more than once.  I knew exactly where the books were located on the shelves of the old public library and the school library as well.  Between me and the other "horsey" kids in the neighborhood, they were (for a period of time) in constant circulation.

Big Black Horse is a young readers' version of Farley's book for older kids, The Black Stallion.  A boy named Johnny received this copy for Christmas one year.  The original gift card is still inside.

I like to think that the classic story by Walter Farley and the cool illustrations by James Schucker gave young Johnny a chance to dream about what it would be like to have the fastest, bravest horse in the world as a true friend.  And that, once you found your dream horse, your parents would let you keep him.

There's an old expression:  The outside of a horse, is good for the inside of a man (or woman).  I'd like to add that the inside of a good horse book, is good for the inside of the reader, young and young-at-heart. 

If you enjoyed the Black Stallion books too, Walter Farley's son has a website that celebrates his father's work:  http://theblackstallion.com/web/

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