Friday, January 27, 2017

Book Review: A Dash of Pepper

Title: A Dash of Pepper

Author: Thelma Harrington Bell

Date: 1965

Publisher: Viking

ISBN: none

Length: 159 pages

Illustrations: drawings by Corydon Bell

Quote: “If ever a boy yearned to own a horse, it was Clyde Downer.”

So, of course, because this is a horse story, he gets one—from an older friend who tells him a legend about a long-ago horse, who looked like the colt called Pepper, who outraced a steam locomotive. And, because a rule of novel writing is that if you begin a novel by repeating an old story the main plot of the novel has to link back to it, before the end of the book Pepper will have a chance to do something heroic that…but that’d be telling.

Along the way Clyde learns about the care of his horse. “‘A frightened horse wants to run.” “Horses like to hear talk…Soft-talking tells him everything’s going to be all right.” “You should decide upon the use of your horse before you get far along with his training. Even a racer is gaited for the type of race in which he will compete.”

In 1965 considerable parts of the United States still picked up few or no television broadcasts, and there was still a market for children’s books that were written to order. Like TV serials only usually less funny, they were written to rules to ensure the kind of time-filler an audience expected.They had to be about a child of a certain type (usually a boy in the highest school grade for which the book would be recommended), from a comfortable family, learning about one of an approved list of wholesome interests for children that age (such as horses). before having an adventure (which didn’t have to be believable to adults), with a happy ending. They were marketed to adults as harmless rainy-day or wait-time entertainment, as long as nobody believed them to be true or “wasted” time reading them when there was anything else to do. A Dash of Pepper is that kind of book. Not outstandingly good, but not bad.

The copy I physically own belonged to a school library and was apparently discarded after being chewed up by someone’s puppy. Online purchasers will be getting a nicer book.

Thelma Harrington and Corydon Bell have not needed a dollar for a long time, so this is not a Fair Trade Book. It can, however, be shipped together with one or more Fair Trade Books. Send $5 per copy, $5 per package, and $1 per online payment to the appropriate address from the very bottom of the screen. (Salolianigodagewi is not an appropriate address; it's the address of the Message Squirrel that sorts out orders and sends legitimate purchasers the appropriate Paypal address link.) Thus, one copy of this book would cost $10 by U.S. postal money order or $11 by Paypal; two copies shipped together would cost $15 or $16, and four would cost $25 or $26, and you could substitute the same number of books of similar size and market value for the same price.