JIM-DANDY by Hadley Irwin


Age Range: 10 & up
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 In their first historical novel since I Be Somebody (1984), a well-regarded pseudonymous team constructs a taut tale of the spirited horse that Custer actually purchased for his wife and the fictional Kansas farm boy who raised him. Motherless Caleb, who lives with a taciturn, illiterate stepfather, Webb Cotter, pins his love on a colt whose siring he paid for with five dollars, the one thing he had from his real father; even so, when money's short, Webb sells Dandy to the cavalry. Caleb is then taken on as stable boy (at a time when horses are routinely ``broken,'' Caleb has trained Dandy gently--secretly disobeying Webb's orders; a rough but kindly soldier lets him ease Dandy's transition). Earlier, Caleb had a dramatic encounter with Indians, parting as friends and with magnanimity on both sides; now he witnesses a massacre at the Battle of the Washita and, recognizing it as a senseless injustice against people who offer no threat, gains new appreciation for the Quaker origins he has always disregarded. Caleb's spare, carefully focused first-person narrative centers on his thoughts and experiences. Setting emerges vividly from a few details, while other characters (except for a spirited tomboy friend) are deftly suggested rather than developed; Custer stays mostly offstage, his ignorant posturing evoked though his troops' amused contempt. Beautifully wrought; the compelling simplicity and subtly rendered emotion invite comparison with Sarah, Plain and Tall. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-689-50594-9
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994


ChildrenSARAH WITH AN H by Hadley Irwin
by Hadley Irwin
by Hadley Irwin