Tousey, Thomas Sanford

About the author

Thomas Sanford Tousey, author and illustrator (1883–1961) was born in east Kansas to a father who owned several Thoroughbreds. When Tousey was eight, the family moved to Indiana. Tousey’s talent at illustration was obvious from an early age; he won a drawing competition in 1902. When noted illustrator Howard Pyle saw his competition entry, he recommended that Tousey have art training. Tousey paid his way through the Art Institute of Chicago by selling his illustrations – political cartoons for the Anderson Morning Herald. The need to respond quickly to events meant he had to get up extremely early and read the papers for subject matter. After he graduated, he earned a living as a freelance illustrator.

His first book, Cowboy Tommy (1932), was based on his childhood experiences on his grandfather’s ranch. Although Tousey was a city dweller for most of his life, he continued to draw the inspiration for his books from rural life. Over 40 books were to follow, many having a Western theme. Horses were shoehorned into much of what he wrote, whether directly with his early evocations of the Chincoteague pony, Chinky the Banker Pony and Chinky Goes to the Circus, which beat Marguerite Henry to it by a decade, or in his biographies of famous Western figures.

Finding the books
Some titles are now in print as print-on-demand (the Cowboy stories); most are available without too much trouble, though you might have to pay to get decent copies. Lots of those around are very well loved. The exception to the easy-to-find rule is the Chinky books, which can be extremely expensive.

Links and sources
Sanford Tousey on Indiana Illustrators
Terri Wear: Horse Stories: An Annotated Bibliography
Thanks to Lisa Catz for summaries and photographs


Chinky the Banker Pony
Chinky joins the Circus

Cowboy Tommy
Cowboy Tommy
Cowboy Tommy’s Roundup

Bibliography (horse books only)

Cowboy Tommy

Doubleday, Doran & Company Inc, New York, 1932, 56 pp, illus the author

Cowboy Tommy’s Roundup

Doubleday, Doran & Company, New York, 1934, 56 pp, illus the author

Cowboy Tommy sleeps out under the stars, and goes to a rodeo.

Cowboy Jimmy

Merrilly, 1935, 40 pp, illus the author

Jerry and the Pony Express

Doubleday & Company, Inc, New York, 1936, 56 pp. Illus the author
Reprinted 1954.

Also in Best in Children’s Books, vol 8

Jerry wants to be a pony express rider, but is too young. He practises flying mounts on his pony, Buster, so he will be ready when the time comes. Eventually he helps to look after the horses. He worries the new fangeld telegraph means he’ll never get the chance to ride, but when an Indian raid takes all the horses from the station, Jerry loans them Buster, and gets his chance to deliver an important message.

Chinky the Banker Pony

Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, 1937, 56 pp, illus the author

In Best in Children’s Books, 1960

This is a Chincoteague pony story written before Misty was born. The story is about two children from Connecticut being taken to Chincoteague for the Pony Penning Days, to pick out a pony to take home. They name their pony Chinky, and teach him to ride, drive, and do tricks.

Chinky Joins the Circus

Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, 1938, 56 pp, illus the author

Peter and Paula forget to put Chinky in his stall one night, and he lets himself out of his field. He is stolen by a junkman, who mistreats him, and when he finds out that Chinky knows how to do tricks, he is sold to a medicine show. He is sold again to the circus, where he is happy, and has almost forgotten his life with Peter and Paula. Then one day the circus stops in Westport.

Val Rides the Oregon Trail

Doubleday, Doran & Co, New York, 1939, 56 pp, illus the author

In Best in Children’s Books, vol 12

Kirkus review

Based on the story of Tousey’s grandfather, Dr Valentine Adamson, this is the story of Val, and his family, who travel the Oregon trail, with Val on his mule, Jinny.

Ned and the Rustlers 1941

Whitman, New York, 1941, 32 pp, illus the author

Old Blue The Cow Pony

Albert Whitman & Company, 1942, 32 pp, illus the author

Based on the true story of a Wyoming cow pony from the time he is a yearling running wild, until his death. A beautiful blue roan, he was captured by the cowboys of the 7XL ranch. Broken in as a four-year-old, he became one of the best cow ponies the ranch had ever seen. Good-natured and mischievous, he won the hearts of all that knew him. 

Little Bear’s Pinto Pony

Albert Whitman & Company, Chicago, 1943, 32 pp, illus the author

Kirkus review

Phil Coburn lives with his parents on a farm in Kansas. One day an Indian boy appears, riding a pinto pony. A Deputy is cheating the Indians, and after Little Bear’s father confronted the deputy, he disappeared. Little Bear suspects the Deputy.

Dick and the Canal Boat

Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc, New York, 1943, 41 pp, illus the author
In Best in Children’s Books, vol 8

A story about a boy and his team of mules. Set on the Erie Canal.

Tinker Tim

Doubleday & Company, 1946, 41 pp, illus the author

Tinker Taylor and his horse, Lady Bess were favourites of the children they met. Tim was an orphan whom Tinky took on trial as a helper. They travelled around, mending things for people. Lady Bess wasn’t much to look at, but she could trot with the best of them, so when the county fairs started, Lady Bess began to race. When Tinker Taylor’s leg was broken it was up to Tim to race Lady Bess in the final heat.

White Prince the Arabian Horse

Albert Whitman & Company, 1945, 32 pp, illus the author

Kirkus review

Alf and his father go to the circus, where Alf sees an Arabian mare and her colt. The next
morning he wakes up to find the colt in his yard – he’s escaped, but Alf can keep the colt
until the cirrcus comes back the following year. He and Red Feather teach the colt tricks. When the circus owner comes to get the colt, the boys show off his tricks. The owner lets them keep the colt, but has them come give a special performance at the circus.

Bill and the Circus

Whitman, 1947, 31 pp, illus the author

Bill, his uncle and their trick riding horse Ginger get a job – they’re going to be the closing act, but there’s a problem. Ginger’s scared of elephants, and the circus has an elephant act.

A Pony for the Boys

Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1950, 45 pp, illus the author

Kirkus review

A Chincoteague tie-in with Mr. Beebee making an appearance at Pony Penning Days. Oliver and Peter live next door to each other. Oliver and Peter raise money, and buy cowboy suits with it. They put the rest of it in the bank to buy a pony. In late July, Oliver’s father takes the boys to Chincoteague, where Mr Beebe shows them a black pony he raised that will be in the auction.

Horseman Hal

Doubleday & Company, 1950, 41 pp, illus the author

Hal’s father is a horse buyer, and Hal wants a horse. He knows he has to prove himself as
responsible enough to have a horse. He goes on a horse buying trip with his father, and takes an instant liking to a big bay cow pony named Captain. His father allows him to use Captain as they herd the horses they bought home. The trip home is full of adventures, including a horse thief and a tornado.