Title: Horse of a Different Color
Author: Ralph Moody
Series: Little Britches series, book 8
Major Themes: Farming, Business, Kansas, Family Read-Alouds, Autobiographies, Memoirs, US History 1900-1950, Books for Boys
Synopsis: After a successful year of hauling wheat, Ralph went into the cattle trading business, and had many more ups and downs.
After a year of reading the Little Britches series, we were a bit sad to reach the final book, Horse of a Different Color (which one of my sons persisted in calling “The Yellow Horse” because of the color of the hardcover copy I have!). They thought this one was a bit different than some of the others—it focused more on business deals than on adventure. I found it fascinating, though, and they enjoyed it.
At the end of The Dry Divide, Ralph was going into the livestock shipping business after a successful summer of harvesting and hauling wheat. Now, he is teaming up with a local man to go into the livestock feeding business, and buying cattle and pigs to help both the local bank and the farmers who had mortgages on their animals. With a combination of good guesses and shrewd decisions, Ralph is making a lot of money on his shipping and his feeding business. And then… the bottom falls out of the livestock market at the same time as he gets a bit careless. Then, a flood wipes out everything. He could still recover…but the bank forecloses on the local man he is teamed up with, who declares bankruptcy—and Ralph is left with the man’s debt!
Now tens of thousands of dollars in debt, still living with the reality of terminal diabetes, what should Ralph do? Declare bankruptcy himself, or try to pay off the debt? This is my favorite part of the story—when he decides to do the hard, honorable thing. I love the way everything worked out. It is sheer fun, for me, to read all the details of his business—and I wish I had his sausage recipe!
Ralph sets a very good example of hard work and honesty. Horse of a Different Color is well worth reading for that example, as well as just being a good story of farm life. He tells his story in a way that keeps the reader entertained, as well as instilling good values. Not only does he show the results of honesty and good choices, the results of dishonesty and poor choices is also shown. My older boys still remember the story of the man who salted his cattle from when I last read this series aloud ten years ago!
WARNING: Chapter 1: doggone you Betty Mae, I’ll swear he’s still bound. Chapter 2: by jiggers, how the heck. Chapter 3: it’s danged near three, by gosh. Chapter 4: why daggone it. Chapter 5: the whole daggone job, daggoned if I ain’t stole, daggone it bud, daggoned if the critters. Chapter 6: so cussed bad. Chapter 7: well daggone it, daggoned if it don’t feel like, daggone it, so danged man. Chapter 10: let the daggoned bankers. Chapter 11: daggone it. Chapter 14: daggone it, a single daggoned hog. Chapter 16: good gosh a’mighty, by jingo, gosh a’mighty, by jingo, a darn sight better. Chapter 17: by jingo twice, by gosh, by jingo. Chapter 21: so cussed ornery, by jiggers, be danged careful, by ginger. Chapter 22: I’ll swear to goodness, jumpin Jehoshaphat, I’ll swear to goodness. Chapter 23: these blasted sheep. Chapter 25: by jiggers
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults