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Eilis Dillon

The Island of Horses

Faber & Faber, London, 1956, illus Richard Kennedy, reprinted 1963

Funk & Wagnalls, New York, 1957

Penguin, pb, 1976, illus Richard Kennedy

Faber & Faber, pb, 1991, illus Richard Kennedy

New York Review Children’s Collection, New York, 2004

Two boys and a deserted island, a herd of wild horses, and a
gang of desperate men:  this is an excellent read, with a vivid
sense of the tensions between different Irish communities, and
a wonderful portrayal of a harsh offshore island and a whole
melting pot of characters, good and bad.

Eilís Dillon (1920-1994)  was born in Galway, Ireland.  She travelled widely in America, and lectured on Irish literature and poetry.  She became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and wrote many books for children.  There are over 30 books to her name:  the three books which feature horses are aimed at differing ages, with the best known, The Island of Horses, aimed at teenagers. This book was selected by The Sunday Times as one of its “99 Best Books for Children.”  It is an excellent read:  a vivid picture of a small and close community combined with realistic and tense adventure.

Finding the books:  The Horse Fancier can be difficult to find (watch out for mad prices on Amazon) but it does turn up cheaply.  The other two titles are easy to find.

Sources and Links:

More on The Island of Horses

A website on Eilis Dillon

Irish Writers Online

Wikipedia entry

The Horse Fancier

Macmillan Education, 1985

For younger readers.  “A small boy invites a horse home for a plate of cornflakes.
 Home is a high-rise flat, but the horse doesn't really mind.”

A Pony and Trap

Hamish Hamilton, 1962, illus Monica Brasier-Creagh

In The Antelope Omnibus, 1965

Transworld, London, 1966

For readers aged 8-12.  “First they had to find a pony. Then a trap.
Michael knew this, and so did all the other members of the choir.
But how were they to find them?

Bibliography - pony books only