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Ponies, ponies, ponies


Robert Newton Peck was born in 1928. He’s something of a man of mystery - reliable information about him is thin on the ground. There’s plenty of it, but much of it is conflicting. However, that’s not stopped him writing. He’s written over 50 books, most of them children’s stories. Many of his stories are set in the Florida of the 1920s and 1930s, though his very popular series Soup is set in a one room schoolhouse in Vermont. Many of his books reflect the harsh realities of farming life; his first book, A Day No Pigs Would Die (1973) didn’t pull its punches. One of his horse stories, Spanish Hoof, looks at the sacrifices that sometimes have to be made in order to save a farm.

Finding the books: Horse Thief is in print; the other titles are all reasonably easy to find.

Links and sources

Robert Newton Peck on Wikipedia

Robert Peck on the Children’s Literature Network

Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibilography, Scarecrow Press, 1987

Robert Newton Peck

The Horse Hunters
Random House, New York, 1988, 215 pp.

Set in 1930s Florida, this story sees Ladd, 15, travelling alone to bring wild horses back to
use for the rodeo, and for breeding.

Bibliography - horse books only

Spanish Hoof

Knopf, New York, 1985, 181 pp.

Harriet’s delighted when her birthday present is a spotted pony. However, her mother’s ranch
hits severe difficulties, and black leg strikes down the new calves. Everyone has to make

Soup in the Saddle
Knopf, New York, 1983, 110 pp, illus  Charles Robinson

Dell, Yearling, 1987, pb

Part of the Soup series. Soup and his friend Rob go to a one room school in Vermont. One day
they find a western saddle in a barn, and decide that if they’re going to be real cowboys, they need
to find a horse. They do, only to find “Gentle George” isn’t as quiet as they hope - by any means.
As his real name is Thunderbolt, that’s probably why. Once over that adventure, they have to
confound someone who wants to tear down their school and sack their teacher.

Horse Thief
HarperCollins, New York, 2007, 277 pp.

Kirkus review

Another story set in 1930s Florida, the hero of this one is Tullis Yoder. He loves horses, and is a
member of the Big Bubb Stampede, a ragged horse show. When the biggest (literally) cowboy
in the show breaks his neck, the Stampede is set to be dissolved, and the horses sold, mostly
for pet food. Tullis is determined to save them.

Cowboy Ghost
HarperCollins, New York, 1999, 200 pp.

Kirkus review

Set in Florida during the 1920s, 16 year old Timothy (Tee) can ride the most difficult horses,
and round up cattle, but can he make it on a gruelling cattle drive through Florida? It’s anything
but easy, but he hangs on, until fate deals him one last blow.