Friday, March 2, 2012

weekend reading: back in Black

Horses and reading are two great passions. And sometimes they come together in such classic ways. I went away for a weekend, and discovered a treasure trove of old books. My parents run a bed and breakfast, and stock the shelves with classic books which they find at auctions and estate sales. I hadn't inspected the library much before, but at the end of one row was quite an impressive selection of Black Stallion series!

Now of course I've read all the Black Stallion books. They were a treasured part of my library when I was a kid living at home, and are still in a box somewhere in my shed. Those were standard paperbacks, that I often bought from the book sale at school. The books this weekend are hardbound and musty, not first editions or anything valuable, but old and filled with great illustrations and I had to read them all.

I remembered all the basic stories, but none of the details. Reading them as an adult (and horse owner) is a little different: suspending disbelief of a 17-hand wild Arab stallion beating Thoroughbreds, living in a small backyard barn, of the Black, his son Satan and other winning horses running to escape a wildfire, and all the myriad things. But so many things are right too, and I sat and devoured the books, just like a kid again.

The Black was back in my heart.

I wanted to share some of the great illustrations, done by (at least) three different illustrators: Keith Ward, Harold Eldridge and Milton Menasso. I'm sure most of you have your own favorite Black Stallion memories...

classic scene original book: the Black kills the snake to save Alec 

This was (and is) still my favorite of the series.
The Black coming off a plane: I think from Black Stallion and Satan
The Black, Satan and others beat a wildfire, and the Black proves himself to Alec.
The Black Stallion Revolts and Alec loses his memory and becomes a cowboy (remember, suspend disbelief!)
Black Minx
This is just a beautiful drawing
Satan racing
Back at the real stable in upper NY state
From the Island Stallion Races
Someone loved this book (circa 1940-1950)
Another cute book plate

My favorite tiny drawing, this would make an awesome tattoo (if I was that kind of brave)
Now, get out and ride your own Black


  1. I loved these books! This was the series that got me through some torturous high school years and lunch hours spent in the library.

    1. They were so fun to revisit! I want to dig out my copies and read the ones they didn't have. I just wish my copies had the awesome illustrations.

  2. I now too want to find them and reread them but I fear all my copies got lost on one of my many moves. BTW, new to following you, noticed you over on BBBDR and thought your boy was a handsome thing. =)

    1. I bet you could find them cheap at a used book store. Except then you get nothing done but reading! Thanks for following, Major is pretty cute, and obnoxious too.

  3. Such memories!! I'm giving my age away, but I recall all those photos from my childhood as if they were yesterday. Lucky you to have all those books! Now I have my own black Arab, but he is only 14.1 and as calm and sweet as The Black was wild. :)

    I'm glad to hear I'm not the only adult who enjoys wandering back to that fantasy world now and again.

    1. Part of me still dreams of my own black Arab, you're lucky to have one! I had a poster of the different horse breeds as a kid, with hearts and circles around my favorite (which changed each week!)

      I really want to dig out my old box of books, and see what treasures I find.