A few weeks ago I was able to finally finish Smoky, the Cowhorse, the 1927 winner of the Newbery Medal. I knew going into this book that it was not going to be my favorite. I have never been a huge fan of animal books: I never went through a “horse book phase,” books about dogs are my least favorite, and I’ve skipped over quite a few classics just because I know they are about animals. Don’t get me wrong, animals in real life can be quite lovely. Books about animals, however, are just not my favorite.
It took quite a while for me to finish this book, but objectively I can see how it won the Newbery Medal. It is a fascinating study of the role of horses in the open range, American West, and then even the decline of the open range. It was interesting to see how horses can be involved in herding cattle, especially with my extremely limited knowledge of cow herding. I also thought it was interesting how Smoky goes through three distinct stages in life (but I won’t spoil anything….).
The version I read had fun illustrations and was a typical 1950s-esq edition. If you know kids who love horses or animals, this might be a good book for them.
Next up on the list is another animal book: Gayneck, the Story of a Pigeon. Suffice to say I’m not super thrilled about this one either… as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t gone out of my way to procure a copy yet. Because I graduated last Saturday (!), I have lost my university library privileges and I haven’t been able to visit the library with my dear husband and his still-functioning library card yet. And with it being the busiest week of the year for the university bookstore, I haven’t had much time to read anyway. Soon and very soon I will get back on the horse (that’s clever wordplay there: ’cause we were talking about horses… see what I did there?) and continue reading my Newbery winners. And my Disney movies (at least I’m in the Golden Age on one of my lists!).