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Regina J Woody

Starlight

William Morrow 1946

Cover art by Lajos Segner

Reprinted in the UK as Star the Golden Horse

Museum Press, London
1949, hb, 180 pp.


“Judy longs to ride and own Starlight, but there is more in this story than the narrative of how they

learned to know and love each other. There is the whole fresh world of childhood, sharply etched

through the eager awareness of Judy’s five senses. There is the smell of seaside and stables, ripe

strawberries, and early morning mist. There are warm sunshine and the slant of rain. There is the taste

of good New England clam chowder and the feel of aching muscles.

 

Judy learns not only how to ride a horse, but how to take care of him. She learns that work is fun. Digging clams, picking berries, drying dishes all give a deep satisfaction even if not the crowning the joy that is hers when Starlight is successfully trained. For extra good measure there are Judy’s friendships; particularly her affection for Almena, the little Negro girl whose wish to become a veterinarian is going to come true, and for red-headed Paul, who has to learn to control his temper before he can control his horse.”


Regina J. Woody (1894- ) was born in Chestnut Hill , Massachusetts.  She learned to ride as a child, and rode all over the world:  “ cross-country in England, on great estates in Hungary, and even in the desert in Africa. “  Horses were not her first love though:  that was dance.  Whilst at Dana Hill School, she told her English teacher, Miss Bentley, that she wanted to be a great dancer and a great writer.  “I recommend that you do one thing at a time, Regina” was the reply.  “One thing at a time.”  


She studied dance in London and Paris, and performed as Nila Devi, a vaudeville headliner.  She gave up dance to learn first aid as war work during the First World War, but married her first aid instructor, Dr McIver Woody, and after she had a son, gave up dance.  She then turned to writing, having sold her first story (about a St Bernard puppy) at the age of 9.  Her first book, The Stars Came Down, was published in 1945.  Most of her books were about dance, with her most famous title being Ballet in the Barn.  She wrote just one horse book, Starlight, a title which, rarely for its time, allows the heroine to have a black best friend, and portrays the black characters positively.  Although Regina Woody wrote only one book about Judy, the character of Almena does appear in a later title, Almena’s Dogs.  This book does not, however, carry on Almena’s story, but does away with Judy and Starlight, and repeats the story of Almena’s desire to become a vet.  

 

Finding the book:  rather more expensive than the average horse book, but not impossible.  Star the Golden Horse is very hard to find in the UK, and is expensive when it does turn up.  


Links and sources:

The dustjacket of Starlight

Some biographical details

A few more biographical details in the De Grummond Collection; the papers of Helen Adams Masten

Bibliography - horse books only