Title: Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West
Author: Marguerite Henry
Major Themes: Horses, Nevada
Synopsis: Wild Horse Annie grew up with mustangs, and her horror at seeing the way the wild horses were hunted out of the hills with airplanes and trucks to be slaughtered motivated her to work to get a law passed to prohibit such hunting.
Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West is a little different than most of Marguerite Henry’s books. Rather than focus on a particular horse, it tells the story of a young woman, Annie Johnston. Annie has spent her life in Nevada, except for a time in the hospital in California to recover from polio. Her girlhood was surrounded by mustangs, as her father had a hauling business using the horses. She married a young man who worked for her father, and the two took over the family ranch.
To make ends meet, Annie had to take a job as a secretary in Reno, and the couple also took in children from the city on the weekends to give them experience outside on a ranch. One day on the way to work, Annie was shocked to see, in front of her car, a livestock truck crammed with half-dead horses! Her life was changed from that moment on, as she began a crusade to outlaw the inhumane hunting of wild horses with airplanes and trucks. Could she stop the killing before all the mustangs were wiped out?
Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West will be enjoyed by any horse-lover.
WARNING: Very sensitive children may be bothered by the descriptions of the way the horses were treated. There is a very small amount of borderline language—chapters 2, 6, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, and 23 each have a little. Chapter 22 also contains a few paragraphs about an Indian superstition.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12