The protagonist, Mary Emma Moody, widowed mother of six, has taken her family east in 1912 to begin a new life. Her son, Ralph, then thirteen, recalls how the Moodys survive that first bleak winter in a Massachusetts town. Money and prospects are lacking, but not so faith and resourcefulness. "Mother" in Little Britches and Man of the Family, Mary Emma emerges fully as a character in this book, and Ralph, no longer called "Little Britches," comes into his own. The family’s run-ins with authority and with broken furnaces in winter are evocative of a full and warm family life. Mary Emma & Company continues the Moody saga that started in Colorado with Little Britches and runs through Man of the Family and The Home Ranch. All these titles have been reprinted as Bison Books, as has The Fields of Home, in which Ralph leaves the Massachusetts town for his grandfather's farm in Maine.
1912 Massachussetts. Narrator Ralph 15 battles maternal Granpa Tom Gould, who swears at "tarnal" boy, cook Millie, old "yalla colt". Ralph tames buckskin by tricks - ties ears back, fills mouth with dirt, apple bribes. Granpa busts invented "contraptions". Millie goes. Uncle Levi advises patience. Pretty Annie and Ralph hold hands. Rocks, roots dynamited. Barn raised.
Early 1900s Colorado. Fortified with Yankee ingenuity and western energy, the Moody family, transplanted from New England, builds a new ranch life. Father has died and Little Britches shoulders the responsibilities of a man at age eleven. Determined Grace and religious Mother cooks beans, bread and repair lace curtains while Ralph builds frames and delivers baking.
Ralph Moody turns again to Colorado, the scene of those two delightful earlier books about his boyhood, Little Britches and Man of the Family.
This is an extension of Mr. Moody's recollections of his twelfth year, and fits withing the framework of Man of the Family between chapters 25 and 26.
The Home Ranch has all the warm and wonderful ingredients which made his first two books such universal favorites with readers of all ages. The book teems with exciting and poignant incidents and with memorable characters, most of them good, kindly, generous people--though there is a villain. Mr. Moody is at his best in picturing a young boy's struggles with economic and other adversities, and having lived through them himself, he writes with such convincing honesty that the reader knows that this is the way things were.
Highly recommended for all readers from nine to ninety.
Ralph was eight years old in 1906 when his family moved from New Hampshire to a Colorado ranch. Through his eyes, the pleasures and perils of ranching in the early twentieth century are experienced... auctions and roundups, family picnics, irrigation wars, tornadoes and wind storms all give authentic color to Little Britches. So do wonderfully told adventures, which equip Ralph to take his father's place when it becomes necessary.
Newly republished in a hardcover edition with a 1950s cover, jacket and pictorial endpages. Interior illustrations by Edward Shenton.
4 July 1919 Nebraska. Ralph Moody "Bud" 20 is diabetic, down to last dime when put off a freight train. Three months later he owns 8 teams of horses and rigs. His girl Judy works alongside. On wheat and corn farm of bully Hudson, he pulls together Swedish brothers, drunk Doc, Spanish-speaking Paco, Irish "Jaiko Jack", Old Bill, into first-rate harvest crew.
Skinny and suffering from diabetes, Ralph Moody is ordered by a Boston doctor to seek a more healthful climate. Going west again is a delightful prospect. His childhood adventures on a Colorado ranch were described in Little Britches and Man of the Family, also Bison Books. Now nineteen years old, he strikes out into new territory hustling odd jobs, facing the problem of getting fresh milk and leafy green vegetables. He scrapes around to survive, risking his neck as a stunt rider for a movie company. With an improvident buddy named Lonnie, he camps out in an Arizona canyon and "shakes the nickel bush" by sculpting plaster of paris busts of lawyers and bankers. This is 1918, and the young men travel through the Southwest not on horses but in a Ford aptly named Shiftless. New readers and old will enjoy this entry in the continuing saga of Ralph Moody.
Horse of a Different Color ends the "roving days" of young Ralph Moody. His saga began on a Colorado ranch in Little Britches and continued at points east and west in Man of the Family, The Fields of Home, The Home Ranch, Mary Emma & Company, Shaking the Nickel Bush, and The Dry Divide. All have been reprinted as Bison Books.