Sep 28, 2020

Indian Paint

by Glenn Balch
adapted by Ardis E. Burton

     Story of a native american boy, son of the chief, who gets to choose his own horse out of the herd. His father is displeased when the boy picks an unborn horse- he wants the black mare's foal, because he saw her running with a wild horse band earlier and figures the stallion sired her colt. His father advises hin against this, saying the colt will be wild and difficult to train. The boy stands by his choice, although people keep pointing out how long he will have to wait for his horse to be old enough to ride (suggesting he should change his mind and choose a grown horse right now). I kind of liked that he didn't go for the immediate, obvious reward but was willing to wait for something he thought would be better. Anyhow, the tribe travels to hunt bison and after the busy work with the meat and hides (he still has to help the women, not being allowed to hunt yet), the boy goes to check on his recently-born colt in the herd. The black mare and his colt are missing. He gets adults to help him read tracks and find out what happened. A fur-trapper had stolen the mare to carry his load to a trader's rendezvous. They find the trapper and the mare, but the colt is missing. It had been unable to keep up and the trapper just left it behind. By the time the boy finds his colt, it is weak and can barely stand. He stays behind while his adult companions go back to the tribe. Alone he nurses the colt back to health. 

I'm assuming the story is going to wind up with this colt being devoted to the boy who saved his life (like Flicka), proving himself a brave steed, and going on adventures with the boy. I browsed through some of the pictures but couldn't finish reading the book. It has the sense of a good story, but didn't feel like I was reading Glenn Balch. Turning back to the copyright page I realized why. The edition I have is part of the Everyreaders collection "selected from the great literature of the world" which are adapted for "the successful teaching of remedial reading" with "carefully controlled vocabulary and sentence structure [enabling] pupils to read the stories easily . . . " Well. Yeah, I could tell the prose had been greatly simplified and it felt like a lot of detail and nuance was missing. It was dry and dull. I'm disappointed I didn't pay better attention when I snatched up these Glenn Balch books a while back- I have two more unread and I already know one is also a shortened version of the original. I doubt I'll even try it now.

Abandoned                 138 pages, 1962


  1. Shortened versions of the original book are the worst aren't they? How disappointing.

  2. Ahh that's too bad. It sounds like it would have been a good story, yeah. I love that he made the choice to wait for something (he thinks is) better than to take the immediate reward.

  3. I really hope to find a first edition someday instead! This author is out of print, so I'm always on the lookout for his name when I'm at used sales or shops.

  4. so i have one & bookmooch is not a secure site per Firefox. where do you want me to send it. i was a horse nut as a kid.

    1. Hi! Are you saying you have an unabridged copy, that you'd share with me? If so that's absolutely lovely and I would like to reciprocate in kind, if I have any titles on my "swap" shelf that you're interested in. I can send you a list to look at: jeanenevarez (at) gmail (dot) com


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