Title: El BlancoEl Blanco
Author: Rutherford Montgomery
Illustrator: Gloria Stevens
Pages: 127
Reading Level: 12-13
Star Rating: ★★

Horse Story.

The Story.

It is there, by the shrine to El Blanco, that the old man lives. A descendant of the temple priests, he believes that the white stallion brought to Mexico by Hernando Cortez was a kind of god. He believes that it is by the power of El Blanco that the rains come and go. And they need to come now, very badly. They will come.

Horses often run through the valley where the old man lives. This is nothing new. But on the night when the rains finally do come, the old man finds a mare in the temple – a mare and a shockingly white colt. It is El Blanco! He has returned!

When horse traders come to the valley, the old man knows he must save El Blanco and the mare, so he drives them out of the valley. Will they be able to survive in the mountains and swamps? And will El Blanco return to his valley?

Cautions.

As is obvious from the above synopsis, El Blanco is correctly labeled The Legend of the White Stallion’. It’s a legend – a myth – in which Hernando Cortez’s horse plays the part of a rain god. As a story, El Blanco was more interesting than most horse stories (it had more real emotion and style), but it is definitely legendary rather than historical.

When El Blanco and his mother flee from the valley, they encounter many dangerous animals. In one scene, a pack of wolves attacks El Blanco and his mother. There is talk of white fangs and slashing tendons. Later, they venture into a swamp where a jaguar attacks and kills the mare.

He [El Blanco] had gone only a few yards when he heard the second roar, and few moments later the agonized cry of his mother. In a panic, he fled still more swiftly. Then he stopped at the edge of the dense woods and whinnied desperately for the mare.

But when he looked back, he saw her lying helpless under the jaguar’s attack, and the full instincts of a wild stallion rose up in the colt. He felt an urge to rush back and attack the killer, to save his mother. With a small, shrill scream he charged back down the slope to the swamp. The jaguar was dragging his mother, still battling weakly, from the swamp. Her cries were now faint. [pg. 50]

:’( After this, El Blanco must learn to fend for himself. A boa constrictor tries to attack him, but El Blanco is able to avoid its coils. Eventually, the jaguar tries to attack him, but El Blanco crushes it with his hooves. Later, El Blanco fights with another male horse for leadership of a herd of horses.

Conclusion. If you enjoy legends, then you’ll enjoy this story. Otherwise, you’d probably enjoy King of the Wind and Justin Morgan Had a Horse more.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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