Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Smoky the Cowhorse" by Will James

"Smoky" was the 1927 winner of the Newbery Award.  So far the Newbery books have been focused around exotic, far-off places most people in the 1920's weren't likely to be familiar with.  So it was surprising and refreshing for me to read a story about the old west (although it wasn't the OLD old west; the story was contemporary to its publication).  

The story follows from Smoky being born to a wild mustang herd on the range clear through to his last years.  I enjoyed the beginning of his life, from birth to the relationship with his mother and other horses, to being branded and eventually broken into life of a cowhorse.  And I also liked the end, where he's stolen and follows other career paths for a time.  I was VERY happy with the ending--sometimes predicting the end of the book can be boring but with happy endings I'm glad to be right.  

But the middle, ugh, the middle.   Too many summers and winters and wolves and blizzards without much happening along the way. Also, the book is dominated by descriptive sections and very little dialogue (this wasn't a talking animal book).  I live for dialogue; it helps keep the reading at a jaunty pace and propels the story.  I almost gave up, but this morning I told myself I only had one-fourth of the book left, to quit being a ninny and FINISH it.  It wasn't a bad story, but it was far from an engaging page-turner.  But I'm happy to have finished it.  I picked up the next Newbery at the library today and I get my new book club book tonight, as well.  It's a happy time to be surrounded by so much great stuff to read!

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