Calico the Wonder Horse, or the Saga of Stewy Stinker
Virginia Lee Burton
Houghton Mifflin, 1941
I'm sure this isn't a rare find by any means, but I'm a big Virginia Lee Burton fan, and I've never laid eyes on this book until yesterday afternoon at around 10:30 a.m. My son and I were at the library, and I picked it off the shelf to check out, only to find it within the same hour somewhere on sale (this always happens to me!) And, technically, I haven't actually read it to my son yet, but instead had the joy of watching my husband read it aloud to him after dinner last night.
Calico is nothing less than a SAGA. It took over 20 minutes, but I'll swear to you I've never had more fun listening to someone read something out loud. My son was talking up a storm the whole time... pointing things out and generally acting as peanut gallery to my husband's Howdy Doody.
The title of this book alone should be enough to communicate its awesomeness!
Of course Burton's illustrations are superb and these have a comic strip quality, but the WORDS.... God, they are a hysterical slice of heaven! Calico the Wonder Horse is such a bad ass, or as Burton describes her... "she could run like greased lightning and she could turn on a quarter and give you back fifteen cents in change". From there, it just gets better and better.
He had seen Stewy Stinker and his gang of bad men... Butch Bones, Snake Eye Pyezon, Buzzard Bates and little Skunk Skeeter... in the Badlands. Stewy Stinker was said to be so mean he would hold up Santa Claus on Christmas Eve if he had a chance. He rode a horse whose name was Mud.
It goes on and on...
Butch Bones was Stewy Stinker's right-hand man. Butch Bones boasted he was so tough he would bite a live grizzly bear's nose. Snake Eye Pyseson was Stewy Stinker's left-hand man. He was so crooked, they said, that if he swallowed nails he'd spit out corkscrews. Buzzard Bates was so bad even a buzzard wouldn't use him for bate. Little Skunk Skeeter just tagged along because nobody else liked him.
Though Burton is most famous for classics like The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, a friend of mine had recommended Life Story (about the origins of the universe and the life of the world), so I'd been on the look out for her work anyway. Finding this one was like the cherry on top.
You know, you have your old childhood favorites, and sometimes you forget that the authors probably wrote a lot of other books you're not familiar with. Dang... this means some author Goggling is in my future. Like I don't have enough to do already!
The Little House
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