I read this book to my son not too long ago. It's a good book, well worth reading. I'm such a fan of the movie that I couldn't believe I'd never read it before.
This was Walter Farley's first novel, and it shows. The prose isn't all that smooth--but to be fair I should note that I haven't read the subsequent volumes, and maybe he improves with experience. After all, he started writing it when he was in high school. The prose really isn't an issue, though. It's a kids' book, and the prose does its job. Regardless, the story's great.
|This is a pretty great book.|
The movie has a couple of other things going for it. One is Hoyt Axton, who plays the father. He does a great job with the small amount of material he has. In the movie he tells a version of the story of Alexander the Great's horse, Bucephalus. He wins a tiny bronze figurine of Bucephalus in a card game, gives it to Alec, his son. Alec keeps it with him while stranded on the island after the boat sinks. I guess I could get into variations of the Bucephalus story (the version I know has the horse being afraid of its shadow, so the young Alexander merely turns the horse so it's facing away from the shadow, and it calms down enough so he can ride--that's not mentioned in the movie), but it's not entirely relevant.
I think what the movie does, and the book doesn't, is equate riding a horse with flying. Riding can give you that feeling. It's a feeling of endless possibility. Of strength and freedom. The book didn't really attempt to do this at all. It was purely a product of cinematography--of director Carroll Ballard and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel.
|I want a bronze statue like that sooo very much.|
Farley had a huge impact on my childhood. My grandfather was a horse trader, and lived just a mile from my parents' house. So I got to ride horses pretty much whenever I wanted. I named my horse Little Black, after Farley's picture book of the same name.
|The Mystery Horse|