Maureen Daly (1921-2006)

American author. She is most famous for her novel Seventeenth Summer which is considered to be the first teen/young adult novel published. She was actually born in County Tyrone, England in 1921 but grew up in America and has American citizenship. Ms. Daly showed an early talent for writing, winning an award for a short story whilst she was still at school and writing Seventeenth Summer while still in her teens. It was published in 1942 and was extremely popular with many, many reprints over the years. She was not however a prolific author, only penning a few other titles including a pony story which is set in Scotland and is about pit ponies and mining, plus a donkey story set in the Second World War. Both of these were lucky enough to be graced with the illustrations of Wesley Dennis.

Ms. Daly also worked as a journalist and wrote man magazine articles. She spent a lot of time travelling to various countries. Together with her husband, mystery writer William P. McGivern, she wrote a biographical account of their adventures in the various places they visited, including her birthplace of Ireland.

Horse & Pony Books:

THE GINGER HORSE
(DODD MEAD [USA] 1964)
ILLUSTRATED BY WESLEY DENNIS
Published with pictorial boards, no dust jacket issued.
Also a Book Club edition.
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition
SUMMARY: Scottish-set historical pony story. It is just after the first World War and mining is still an important part of life. Rob and his friend Katie visit the pit ponies who are having a holiday from the mine. Rob grows attached to a chestnut Shetland pony he calls Ginger. He is disturbed when he knows Ginger must go back down the mine and feels an affinity for the pony, as he too must work there when he leaves school as his father is scornful of Rob's ambitions to do something else with his life. When Ginger escapes and causes trouble Macfarlane the mine owner is angry and orders the pony shot. Ron hides the pony but this puts him in a tricky situation as MacFarlane is his father's boss and can fire himů.

PONYMAD VIEW: Although not a huge amount of pony content a very nice little story which is well-written and thoughtful. The well-used plot of children hiding an endangered pony is given more originality and depth by the added element of Rob's family life and the Scottish mining community. The pony's and Rob's lack of freedom and choice in life are nicely paralleled. The ending is satisfying, although perhaps not that realistic!. Sumptuous black and white and colour illustrations by Wesley Dennis add to the charm.
PONYMAD RATING: 3-4 HORSESHOES

THE SMALL WAR OF SERGEANT DONKEY
(DODD MEAD [USA] 1966)
ILLUSTRATED BY WESLEY DENNIS
Reprinted in paperback by Bethlehem Books in 2000.
Paperback edition still in print in USA
EDITIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, paperback edition
SUMMARY: Set in Italy during the Second World War when donkeys and mules were still used as army pack animals. Young Chico misses his donkeys who were confiscated by the Germans is drawn to the new Army Remount Depot where donkeys and mules are being processed before being sent off to serve as pack animals in the mountains. Chico befriends a donk he names Sergeant Donkey and it is the start of a shared adventure for the pair.

Collector's Info:
The Ginger Horse is easy to find in the USA and cheap. Much harder to find elsewhere and may be costly, but American copies are so inexpensive it won't cost much to buy from there, even with shipping added. The paperback edition of Sergeant Donkey is still in print in the USA. Older copies can be found in both the USA and UK without too much trouble.