Books and Horses

Books and Horses

Early in my career, I had the privilege of meeting, interviewing, and profiling a giant of children’s literature, Marguerite Henry. 

I was working for Claire Miller and Selma Brody, whose company Miller-Brody Productions included a line of audiovisual products featuring winners of the Newbery Medal, a prize awarded each year by the American Library Association for the outstanding children’s book. Claire and Selma were on the East Coast, and to deal with Newbery authors in the West they decided to call in help. Enter yours truly.   

They hired me, and I drove from my home in L.A. to Rancho Santa Fe, whereHenry lived and worked. Her warmth enveloped me from the moment I walked through the door.

Henry’s specialty was horses, and she described her adventures gathering stories for books on the subject, most notably Misty of Chincoteague and the Newbery-winning King of the Wind. She loved life, especially the version of it lived by those brave, gentle creatures, and in telling about them she was writing about all of us.

I sent her a draft of my script for comments. When I did, I met the other Marguerite Henry—the one who marked and molded her stories endlessly until they were lovely and simple and complete. 

She corrected my script the way an English teacher might, and the most frequent marking was “rep,” meaning repetitious. Using the same word too frequently clanged in her ear, and it has come to clang in mine. 

I like to think that my writing, all these years later, is a bit more thoughtful and graceful because of our meeting that afternoon.

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You may also enjoy Lettle Teagues new biography, Dear Readers and Riders: The Beloved Books, Faithful Fans and Hidden Private Life of Marguerite Henry.


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