And Then I Read: DANNY’S LUCK by Lavinia R. Davis

I’ve been collecting books by favorite authors since my childhood. My main goal is to find and enjoy reading books by authors I like, and there are a lot of those. Many of the authors have been favorites from my childhood, like Lavinia R. Davis.

Davis is little known today except as the author of two Caldecott Honor Books illustrated by Hildegard Woodward, as is this one. The Caldecott Medal is for the illustrator. Those are “Roger and the Fox,” and “The Wild Birthday Cake.” These three and a few others are for young readers, with illustrations on nearly every page, and about 50 pages.

“Danny’s Luck” is a simple but charming story of a boy turning seven on Halloween who has been told he’s getting a very special birthday present that begins with the letter B. As he walks home from school he wonders what it could be, and comes to the conclusion it’s a new bike. This does not please him, as he’s not a good bike rider. But, perhaps it’s something else. Davis is at her best with animals, as with the cat Inky seen here, and it was no surprise to me that the birthday surprise was one, though I didn’t guess it until nearly the end. it’s a heart-warming and beautifully illustrated book that I found at a used book store this week (one of the few survivors) for $6.00. On Amazon you can find it for about $30, more that I would pay.

My favorite Davis books are about children and horses, ponies and donkeys, all riding animals, with the top title being “Hobby Horse Hill.” There are eight of them, published between 1939 and 1955 in hardcover, though there was a 1963 paperback of “Hobby Horse Hill” from Scholastic Books in 1963. That was my introduction to Davis’s wonderful horse books, and I’ve collected the rest over the years. She wrote over 40 books in all, including adult mysteries, teen romance stories, and several children’s novels under the pen name “Wendell Farmer.” I’m still looking for a few of those. She was a fine writer, and I recommend all her books, but especially the animal ones.

 

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