Sunny's bookshelf
Sunny's bookshelf photo by Judy Solomon

Online book reviews since 2011, the very best in reviewing – connecting good readers with equally good writers


Dear Bookin’ with Sunny, my niece is ten years old and crazy about horses. Can you recommend any good horse stories?  I can’t afford to get her a pony and her parents cannot afford to keep a horse in the city.  Sincerely, Desperate in Chicago.

Dear Desperate – Funny you should ask. The short answer is any title by Marguerite Henry and/or the classics like Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka, The Red Pony and National Velvet. More modern are the two Phantom Stallion series by Terri Farley (no relationship to Walter).

The long answer requires a bit of time and paper, so for those interested, these are some of my favorites:
Anna Sewell — Black Beauty
Marguerite Henry — Misty of Chincoteague; Sea Star Orphan of Chincoteague; Stormy Misty’s Foal;  King of the Wind; Born to Trot; Justin Morgan Had a Horse; Black Gold; Brighty of the Grand Canyon; San Domingo The Medicine Hat Stallion; Misty’s Twilight;  Mustang Wild Spirit of the West; White Stallion of Lipizza; Gaudenzia Pride of  the Palio; The Little Fellow
Walter Farley  — The Black Stallion and all the Black Stallion novels; The Horse that Swam Away
Maureen Dally   —  The Ginger Horse
Dorothy Lyons   —  Golden Sovereign
Mary O’Hara   —  My Friend Flicka
John Steinbeck   —  The Red Pony
Dana Faralla   —  The Magnificent Barb
Ralph Moody   —  Come on Seabiscuit
C. W. Anderson  —  The Outlaw (a horse whisperer story); Phantom Son of the Gray Ghost; Alfred and  the Saint; Salute
Belle Coates  —  That Colt Fireplug
Mildred Mastin Pace  — Old Bones the Wonder Horse
Stephen Holt  —  Wild Palomino Stallion of the Prairies
Terri Farley  —  The Wild One #1 of the Phantom Stallion Series (all good reads); The Horse  Charmer, #1 of the Phantom Stallion: Wild Horse Island Series
Michael Morpurgo  —  War Horse
Alison Hart  —  Shadow Horse; Whirlwind The Sequel to Shadow Horse
Jane Smiley  —  A Good Horse
John Taintor Foote  — Hoofbeats The Great Horse Stories of John Taintor Foote
David Thomas, Ed.  —  Teen-age Horse Stories
Steven D. Price, Ed.  —  The Greatest Horse Stories Ever Told
P. C. Braun, Ed.  —  The Big Book of Favorite Horse Stories

Not all these titles are still in print, but if not in print, most can be found at used bookstores or online. Marguerite Henry is my favorite, not just because of great stories and very solid writing, but because almost every one of her novels is steeped in history. A lot of her books are still in print and the same is true for most of Walter Farley’s books. C. W. Anderson’s books are good and his illustrations are amazing. Terri Farley’s Wild Stallion series, is a wonderful way to learn about the wild Mustangs and her website is always up-to-date on efforts to save the Mustangs.

“Desperate in Chicago” didn’t ask, but I’d like to suggest that one can never start reading horse stories too early in life. Here are a few of my favorite picture books:

Robert Frost  —  The Runaway – Glenna Long, Illustrator
Jane Yolen  —  Sky Dogs, Barry Moser, Illustrator
James Herriot  —  Bonny’s Big Day – Ruth Brown, Illustrator
Ann Herbert Scott  —  Cowboy Country – Ted Lewin, Illustrator
Donald Hall  —  The Farm Summer 1942 – Barry Moser, Illustrator
Jonathan London   —  Mustang Canyon -Daniel San Souci, Illustrator
A. B. Patterson  —  The Man From Snowy River – Annette Macarthur-Onslow, Illustrator
Jim McCafferty   —  Holt and the Cowboys – Florence S. Davis, Illustrator
Marguerite Henry   —  Five O’clock Charlie; Our First Pony -Wesley Dennis & Rich Rudish, Illustrators
Richard Van Camp — What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses? – Geo. Littlechild, Illus.
Rita Gray — The Wild Little Horse, Ashley Wolff
Jane Monroe Donovan — Winter’s Gift (Christmas book)


And for all of you who simply never outgrew your love of horses:

Laura Hillenbrand   —  Seabiscuit, An American Legend
William Nack   —  Ruffian A Racetrack Romance
Stephen Dobyns   —  Saratoga Backtalk
Mim Eichler Rivas   —  Beautiful Jim Key The Lost History of a Horse and a Man Who Changed the World
Jane Smiley  —  A Year at the Races
Elizabeth Letts  —  The Eighty-Dollar Champion Snowman the Horse That Inspired a Nation
Robert Olmstead   —  Coal Black Horse (Adult and young adult readers)
Jaimy Gordon  —  Lord of Misrule
John Hawkes   —  Sweet William (This is a Black Beauty for the race horse)
William Cole, Ed.  —   The Poetry of Horses (there’s even a poem by Henry Petroski)

I’m sure you all have your favorites. It’s true that some stories you outgrow, but there are so many more that never leave that part of your brain designated for horse loving. I cannot tell you what fun it was for me to pull most of these titles down off my shelves and look at them again. That was an unexpected Christmas present in itself. And to “Desperate in Chicago,” Thanks for asking.

— S. Solomon

6 Responses

  1. Don’t forget “The Sweet Running Fill” and the rest of the five Bonnie Books! By Barbara Van Tuyl. See them at and look for them on  A favorite series from the 1970’s recently republished!

  2. Another great picture book is Winter’s Gift by Jane Monroe Donovan.  She is both author and illustrator — it’s a beautiful book!

    1. Hi Jeanne,
      I actually have that book and agree, it should have been included. I missed it because it’s stacked with my other Christmas books and not in the regularly shelved books pulled down for the blog. Three other picture books have also been found and as soon as I return home from Portlannd I’ll be updating that picture book list. I’d been advised that the blog was a bit lengthy, but I think I also shoud have included at least a paragraph about illustrators of horse stories. Donovan’s art is right up there with W. Dennis and C. W. Anderson, two of my favorites. Thanks for writing Jeanne

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