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Reading My Library

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Billy & Blaze

Our library had 8 of the 11 Billy and Blaze books on the shelf and so, of course, I brought them all home with me to read. I had never heard of them before and then suddenly they started popping up in various places. Semicolon talked about Billy & Blaze a few weeks back and then I heard a rumor that the series was going to be turned into a movie. (However, the website doesn't really seem to go anywhere.)

Penned and illustrated by C.W. Anderson, and published between 1936 and 1969, this was clearly a series written by a serious horse lover. From the very first book, Billy & Blaze, we find ourselves living life in the saddle, following the adventures of Billy. C.W. Anderson did have a passion for these animals and it was said that when he was not riding them, he was drawing them.

Each book in the series, as I said, follows Billy who is always on top of his favorite horse, Blaze. They have a variety of adventures together, saving lost calves from mountain lions, running from forest fires and locating ponies for other boys who long for their own horses to ride. The stories are squeaky clean and entertaining (I suspect more so, if you happen to love horses!). For my part, I particularly enjoyed the illustrations.

My favorite drawings of Anderson's were contained in the story Blaze Finds the Trail. I don't know if it was the particular edition I was looking at or the printing, but the sketches were darker, creating more contrast and making them feel more detailed. I can't tell if he originally illustrated with pencil or pen. (Does someone know the answer to that? I couldn't find it online in any of the places I looked.) What I do know is that it is beautiful work and so I've included some of it below for you to enjoy also.

Here are a list of all of C.W. Anderson's books, including Heads Up, Heels Down (1944) which was a riding guide for young people who had the same ache to sit in a saddle:

And So To Bed (1935)
Billy and Blaze (1936)
Blaze and the Gypsies (1937)
Blaze and the Forest Fire (1938)
Black Bay and Chestnut (1939)
Deep Through the Heart (1940)
Salute! (1940)
High Courage (1941)
Thoroughbreds (1942)
Big Red (1943)
Heads Up, Heels Down (1944)
A Touch of Greatness (1945)
All Thoroughbreds (1948)
Bobcat (1949)
Post Parade (1949)
Blaze Finds the Trail (1950)
Horses Are Folks (1950)
A Pony For Linda (1951)
Horse Show (1951)
Linda and the Indians (1952)
Turf and Blue Grass (1952)
The Crooked Colt (1954)
The Smashers (1954)
Grey, Bay, and Chestnut (1955)
Blaze and the Thunderbolt (1955)
Colts and Champions (1956)
The Horse of Hurricane Hill (1956)
Afraid to Ride (1957)
Pony for Three (1958)
Blaze and the Mountain Lion (1959)
A Filly For Joan (1960)
Lonesome Little Colt (1961)
Complete Book of Horses (1963)
Blaze and the Indian Cave (1964)
The World of Horses (1965)
Before the Bugle (1965)
Great Heat (1965)
Twenty Gallant Horses (1965)
Blaze and the Lost Quarry (1966)
Another Man ‘O War (1966)
C. W. Andersons Horse Stories (1967)
The Outlaw (1967)
Blaze and the Gray Spotted Pony (1968)
Blaze Shows the Way (1969)
The Blind Connemara (1971)

Lastly, here is an interesting article to read by a woman who read the Billy & Blaze series growing up, and happens to own a lithograph of one of Anderson's works.

Again, I think his work is just beautiful. If any of my children grow up with a love for horses, I'll definitely be adding Billy and Blaze to our home collection!


  1. We aren't into horses but it sounds like a great series. I'll have to check them out soon.

  2. In your opinion, do these books need to be read in order? I'd like to get a couple when we go to the library this evening, but I just checked our library's websites and some are checked out (including the first in the series).

    I love this new blog. Thanks for doing it!

  3. Wiggins - I don't think it would hurt to read them out of order. They seem to give a mini introduction in each book and it's not very confusing. Even if you don't get the first book and find out how the two were paired up - each book seems to introduce them adequately.

  4. I love this post, Carrie. Thanks for sharing the drawings. I've never read a Billy and Blaze book, 'though I am familiar with them. I might have to add some to our cart next time we visit the library!

    Those illustrations are gorgeous!

  5. My daughter loved these books when we went through Sherry @ Semicolon's Picturebook Preschool last year. Thanks for the reminder that I need to check them out from the library again!

  6. I've never even heard of these books, but they sound like something I would enjoy

  7. One of my favorite authors and sets of books ever. The old ones are so are to find though!

  8. I cannot believe I grew up a devoted, nay, crazy horse lover and never heard of these books! I'll have to start scouting for them. Especially as my son is destined to be a horse lover too...he is already crazy about dogs and any other type of animal that will hold still long enough to get a hug! : ) Thanks for bringing these books to light!