C.W. Anderson's Billy & Blaze series is a nice slice of good, old-fashioned white picket fence, lost-era rural Americana... The series centers around a resolutely good-natured, earnest adolescent boy named Billy, and the adventures he has while riding his loyal horse, Blaze. Some of the stories have repetitive elements, but they are all uniformly satisfying, and great for horse lovers to explore. Each story stands alone, although there is some continuity from book to book. The sketchy, black-and-white drawings are wonderful, and a centerpiece of the series. The content is a bit dated, but the books are essentially still as entertaining now as they were in the decades when they were written. Anderson wrote numerous other outdoorsy books, including some with horse-related themes, and I may review some of those later as well.





C.W. Anderson & The Billy And Blaze Series
Books By Author | Books By Title | Main Index



"Billy And Blaze: A Boy And His Pony"
Written by C. W. Anderson
Illustrated by C. W. Anderson
(MacMillan, 1936)

A fine, old-fashioned story about a young boy who gets a pony and runs him in a race (winning first place, of course...) There's also a loyal German shepard named Rex, for good measure. This is a nostalgic slice of the bygone era of white picket fences-and-Norman Rockwell-ish America, when the idyllic rural life was much less distant to most kids than it is now. If you're looking for something multi-culti, avant and uber-hip, this book ain't it... But if you want a nice, simple book with pretty pictures of horses, this is pretty good. The first volume in a long-lived series.
(C+)


"Blaze And The Gypsies"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1937)

(-)


"Blaze And The Forest Fire"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1938)

(-)


"Blaze Finds The Trail"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1950)

Billy and Blaze go off on a long ride, into a densely-overgrown forest where the path becomes lost... and so do they! As a storm comes up and night begins to fall, they race to find the road back home, jumping over downed trees, etc. until Blaze brings them back, safe and sound. Good old Blaze. (B)


"Blaze And Thunderbolt"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1955)

One of the richest Billy And Blaze narratives... Billy and Blaze go out West, traveling with Billy's parents to a dusty ranch in the desert, where the local cowboys are in awe of a legendary wild mustang named Thunderbolt. Unridden and uncatchable, Thunderbolt is patiently wooed by Billy, who offers him carrots and companionship -- Blaze becomes his friend first, and eventually the mustang follows them home, hopping in the corral by himself one night, although he'll only let Billy ride him after that. It's a complex story with several stages and a strong emotional arc... not just a bunch of riding around, seeing stuff. (A)


"Blaze And The Mountain Lion"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1959)

It's man-vs-nature in this episode, in which Billy is still out West, riding the buttes and exploring the arroyos. His cowboy friend Jim warns Billy that there is a mountain lion out lurking in the hills, and sure enough, Bill and Blaze encounter the puma that very same day. Billy discovers where the big cat's den is, and tells the cowboys, who then go off and kill the cat. The killing of the cat is kind of depressing, but it happens offstage, and isn't described in the text (Jim "got" him, but we're not explicitly told what that means...) Billy also rescues a calf that had fallen off a cliff, and that provides the main drama for the story. Not a great story from an ecological standpoint, but an adequate entry in the Billy & Blaze series. You can skip it, though, and not miss anything. (B-)


"Blaze And The Indian Cave"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1964)

(-)


"Blaze And The Lost Quarry"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1966)

Billy and Blaze go off on a long ride through the woods, meeting an odd old man who gives them directions to a defunct old quarry site. They ride through a densely-overgrown forest where the path becomes lost, until they find the old quarry site, which is now flooded, with a giant, cool pond. Just as they arrive, Billy sees a stray dog chasing a fox. The dog falls into the water and Billy rescues him and takes him home. (Hey! Whatever happened to Rex, the German shepard from the first book???) (-)


"Blaze And The Gray Spotted Pony"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1968)

Billy is nice to a neighboring boy, Tommy, who dreams of having a pony of his own some day. Tommy hangs around Billy and Blaze whenever he can, and Billy generously lets him ride Blaze sometimes. When Tommy's birthday comes around, Billy helps Tommy's parents purchase the little grey pony that Tommy has fallen in love with. Not much of a plot, but Tommy and his pony show up later, in another book, so it's nice to know where they came from. (B)


"Blaze Shows The Way"
Written by C.W. Anderson
Illustrated by C.W. Anderson
(Macmillan, 1969)

(-)




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