Tam the Untamed by Mary Elwyn Patchett ; Illustrated by Gerald McCann
Indianapolis : Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1955. First American edition, first printing. Stated. Hardcover. 186 pages ; illustrated ; 22 cm. $2.75 dust jacket with minimal wear. Blue cover boards with gilt title on front and spine. Lean to spine. Gift inscription on flyleaf. No other markings elsewhere to pages. Binding is firm.
TAM THE UNTAMED
"Ajax and Tam, Tam and Ajax—that is how it went with me during my childhood." Now from the author of Ajax, Golden Dog of the Australian Bush comes an adventure story about another glorious animal. Tam, the magnificent silver horse, is a fitting companion for the beautiful golden dog.
Their home is the strange and exciting bush country of Australia, where the author grew up, and where a solitary child could find adventure every day, especially with such lovable and interesting playmates as Matilda the kangaroo, Kiko the monkey, Possy the possum, and Kaa, the carpet snake nine feet long and still growing, who liked to wind himself around the neck of his young owner. Then there were the "boys": Algy the bumbling bulldog, Ben the naughty terrier, and of course Ajax, the huge golden fighter—half dingo and half kangaroo dog.
Tam was an orphan, as so many of the author's pets were, son of a thoroughbred mare and of Bobs, the most famous buck-jumper of Australia. And as the tiny, smoky-colored foal grew into the proud silver creature he became, the intense friendship among the little girl, the aloof dog and the spirited horse grew too. Three better friends you cannot find, in books or life.
Tarn was never broken as most horses are. He could be ridden, but not by everyone, and he could have been as famous a buck-jumper as his father—as two would-be thieves found out to their sorrow when they kidnaped the young horse. The kidnapping, however, gave Tarn a few weeks of life in the wilderness as leader of a herd of brumbies, the wild horses of Australia. How Ajax and his mistress finally tracked down and recovered the beautiful horse is suspenseful reading fare.
There are many lovable and laughable episodes. But all is not sweetness and light. Tam was a complex creature, too highly strung and unstable—never completely tamed—to be the perfect companion for a young girl. He loved her as much as he would ever love any human being, and yet he began to frighten those who were concerned for her. There was something demonic in the magnificent Tam—short for Tamburlaine the Conqueror. He did conquer—another horse who disputed his leadership of the brumby herd, and several human beings who got in his way. But his young mistress refused to believe he could spell real danger for her until—
But the story must not be spoiled.
For it, like Ajax, is a wonderful story, catching its readers up in the same sort of magic spell. The strange land, the appealing animals, the exciting bush-country life— every child dreams of this kind of wild, free living. Ajax and Tam, Tam and Ajax—this is how it will be with young readers—and older ones too—of Tam the Untamed.
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