Monday, February 8, 2016

Children's Author and Illustrator Week

The first week in February is Children's Author and Illustrator Week.
There are many equine authors and illustrators, but I thought I'd highlight Walter Farley and The Black Stallion because 2016 is the Black Stallion's 75th anniversary. In honor of the anniversary, the publisher is releasing new covers for the books (and they're pretty)! In some of my editions of The Black Stallion series,  the Black is described as being "The most famous fictional horse of the century" and for good reason. Random House published the first novel in 1941 when Farley was 26. It's been in print since, which is a spectacular feat. The series has captivated generations since its release.
1991 edition
This was the first copy I got. Keith Ward illustrated it. His art spanned across numerous subjects, and he was born in 1906 and passed in 2000. The dust jacket has been through hell, but the actual book is still in excellent condition. I found most of the older hardbacks of the series at a yard sale. All of them but this one had pretty much intact dust jackets.
All of the hardbacks of the books have illustrations, but none of the paperbacks I've come across contain any. 

Farley  was born in New York on June 26, 1915. He wanted a pony when he was small, but lived through his horse filled stories instead until his uncle moved close. From there he entered the world of real horses.  He began writing the Black Stallion in High school and finished it before graduating from Columbia University. It was quickly picked up by Random House. The series took off, catching the interest of both boys and girls. Celebration was cut short by WWII because Farley signed up. While active in the army, he also received an award for The Black Stallion.
He and his wife had four children and they lived on a farm in Pennsylvania. He participated and owned horses.
1977 Cover
Breyer has made different versions of The Black. Chris Hess sculpted The Black in the early 80s. Since then, he's been redesigned on the Sham mold, classics, and even a plushie. The one below is the 80s Chris Hess one.
The Black Stallion movie first came out in 1979 and 2014 marked the 35th anniversary of  it. In honor of that milestone Horse Illustrated had a couple of articles written about The Black Stallion. One was from Walter Farley's son who got to be on set during the shooting of the movie, screenwriter Jeanne Rosenberg and the other was Kelly Reno (Alec).

A spin off TV series, Adventures of The Black Stallion, appeared in the early 90s (from 1990-1993), with Mickey Rooney retaining his role as Henry and Richard Ian Cox as Alec. It's loosely based on the books, but not such a change that you lose the story. I enjoyed it!
Picture from Amazon
Farley wrote a shorter verison of The Black Stallion called Big Black Horse.  It was illustrated by James Schucker. James Schucker was a versatile artist who was born in 1903 and passed in 1988. Big Black Horse was originally published in 1953.

It was written with younger readers in mind. 
I enjoyed the illustation style.

Falrey died in 1989. In total he wrote 28 books. The last book he wrote was The Young Black Stallion and he co-wrote it with his son, Steve Farley. Steve Farley has continued The Black's story with The Black Stallion and the Lost City. I haven't read it, so I have no idea about how it compares to his father's series.

While Walter Farley is no longer with us, his books have left a large print on the hearts of horse loving kids. 


  1. I've actually never read the Black Stallion books so I might need to do that :)

  2. The red and black cover is my favorite edition of the book. In my classroom, we read children's classics, and this is a favorite of many of the kids, even those who aren't horsey. I love Farley's Little Black and Big Red books, too, but I had never heard of Big Black. Have to find that one on eBay or garage sales. :)

    1. That's awesome that they like it! Little Black is another adorable Farley story. :)

  3. This is a WONDERFUL post. Thank you for sharing! (and another huge thank you for the copy I have that came from you - along with the other books. You rock!) :D The Black has always been my favorite fictional horse, ever since the very first time I saw the movie as a little kid. He is the reason my favorite horse color is black. In the aligning of the stars I ended up with my very own "black stallion" - though my boy is not a fiery Arabian, he's a laid back Paint. ;)

    1. Your boy is gorgeous. :) And I'm still so glad that you like them! :)