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text 2017-12-31 15:18
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #8 - Las Posadas
Silver Saddles - Covelle Newcomb

A book set in Mexico.


I'm guessing I bought Silver Saddles when I was in fifth grade, maybe fourth, so in the late 1950s.  It's a horse story, you know, so that was right there enough to attract me.  But this book had something extra that made it stick in my mind from then right through another almost 60 years:  It's set in Mexico and there's a whole lot of Spanish in it.


I lost my original copy years and years ago but it was one of those things that I just had to replace.  A few years ago I found a copy on Amazon and added it to the collection, but I didn't read it right away.  Las Posadas seemed a good reason to spend an afternoon getting reacquainted with an old friend.


Flint Ryder's dad has been given a palomino quarter horse stallion, Cimarron, and the horse needs to be brought from Torreon, Mexico to the Ryder ranch 300 miles away.  Fifteen-year-old Flint beats out his brother Bill for the job of picking up the horse, then riding him overland back to the ranch.  It's a week-long adventure filled with danger and excitement, including murderous bandits and a rattlesnake and a rodeo.


Whether such a story was plausible when it was written in 1943, I don't know.  It seems pretty far-fetched today that a teenager not yet old enough to drive would be sent out with a machete and a rifle to deliver a highly valuable horse, but it was a fun read when I wasn't old enough to think about plausibility.  Now it's kind of eye-rolling.


So was the racism.  It's a patronizing, colonial, kind racism, but racism all the same.  There's little doubt that blond, blue-eyed Flint will outsmart and outfight and outride any Mexican because, well, because.  I didn't see it that way as a kid, but well, we live and learn.  I doubt Silver Saddles would make it onto any current recommended reading list without plenty of disclaimers!





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text 2015-05-02 21:37
Happy 85th Birthday, Nancy Drew!


From A Mighty Girl





I'm not sure which Nancy Drew mystery was the first I read.  My own collection probably never reached more than a dozen or so, and I read a few others lent to me by my aunt.  She was born in 1929, so some of hers may have been close to first editions.  Among mine were The Witch-Tree Symbol and The Ghost of Blackwood Hall.  Aunt Shirley had The Sign of the Twisted Candles and maybe half a dozen others.  (She also had one Judy Bolton mystery, The Unfinished House, that I enjoyed maybe even more than Nancy Drew.)


It didn't occur to me until I saw this notice of the 85th anniversary on Facebook that Nancy Drew was really pretty subversive.  She was a girl who acted, rather than reacted.  She relied on her two girl friends rather than on her boyfriend, the sometimes rather smarmy Ned Nickerson.  She figured things out and she saved herself when she got in trouble, and she didn't apologize for being smart.


Hmmmm.  Maybe I absorbed more of Nancy Drew than I thought.

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