A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
When I was about 8 years old, I found a book in the school library about a beautiful stallion and the little orphan boy who took care of him. The story began in Arabia and had the magical title of King of the Wind. That was my introduction to Marguerite Henry’s horse books. It was also my introduction to Islam, as the novel began in the month of Ramadan. A much better way to learn of that religion than today’s children hearing terrorist propaganda. Through her books, I learned about history, from Colonial America, Georgian England, the Gold Rush and the rescue of the Lippizzaner Stallions in WW2. Not only was there lots of horses in barns, fields and race tracks, but there were other cultures and lifestyles, all of them so drastically different from my dysfunctional family. When I picked up one of Ms. Henry’s books, my stress and sickliness would be swept away to the desert sands or Oklahoma prairies. Instead of arguments, I’d be riding Brighty, the donkey, through the Grand Canyon.
It wasn’t only the writing that made the books so enjoyable, it was also the delightful artwork by Wesley Dennis. His wash and charcoal illustrations were sprinkled liberally throughout each book, sometimes just a tiny drawing of a foal frolicking such would end a chapter. The horses always had flowing tails and tossed manes and the shiny coats, Mr. Dennis really knew his subjects. I must admit to being upset when I see modern reprints of the books with someone else’s artwork, it seems sacrilegious.
I never knew anything about Marguerite Henry apart from her books and have never looked into it, even as an adult. It seemed enough to love her work. I do recall hearing of her death on CNN in the 1990’s and crying. A few years ago, I found her Album of Horses at an antique show and was happily surprised to see it autographed as well. It stands on a shelf in my bedroom, among my most treasured books.
This post was initially included in When We Were Cubs and has been modified to fit this Theme Week.