McMeekin, Isabel McLennan

About the author

Isabel McLennan McMeekin (1895–1973) wrote several children’s books, most of which were based in the American South. She wrote plays with Dorothy Clark under the pseudonym Clark McMeekin. Probably her best known book is her fictionalisation of the story of Aristides, who won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875. Aristides, just over pony size at 15 hh, and owned by Hal Price McGrath, was one of two horses entered by him in the Kentucky Derby. In theory, Aristides was supposed to act as pacemaker for McGrath’s more fancied runner, Chesapeake, but once Aristides hit the front he fought off all challengers, and won. Chesapeake came eighth.

Finding the books
None of the books were published in the UK. All are reasonably easy to find in the USA. Very good firsts of Kentucky Derby Winner can be expensive.

Links and sources
Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987
Aristides and the Kentucky Derby
Many thanks to Lisa Catz for the pictures.

Bibliography (horse books only)

Kentucky Derby Winner

D McKay, Philadelphia, 1949, 272 pp, illus Corinne Dillon
Grosset & Dunlap, 1955, Famous Horse Series

Jackie Spratt buys a share in a racehorse: Aristides. He helps to train him while a new race course is being built at the Churchill Farm. A new race is also being planned: the Kentucky Derby.

Ban-Joe and Grey Eagle

Franklin Watts, New York, 1951, 229 pp, illus Corinne Boyd Dillon

Ban-Joe is an orphan, who finds a job in a Louisville livery stable where the racehorse
Grey Eagle is kept. Ban-Joe’s ambition is to be a jockey and ride Grey Eagle.

The Postman’s Pony

Putnam, New York, 1960, 93 pp, illus Chet Kalm

Mark delivers the mail in rural Kentucky. He enjoys his job, socialising with the families along the route, until two criminals start terrorising the area. They steal Mark’s pony, Pet.

First Book of Horses

Franklin Watts, New York, 1949, illus Pers Crowell

I suspect this is non fiction – if anyone can confirm one way or the other, please let me know.