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Frieda K Brown (F K Brown)

Last Hurdle

Crowell, New York, 1953, 202 pp,
illus Peter Spier

Thomas Y Crowell, 1970, pb

Linnet Books, Hamden, Conn, 1988, 292 pp,

Illus Peter Spier, 202 pp

Kathy dreams of owning a horse, and when she hears of
one that can be bought very cheaply, she buys the thin old
black horse and develops him into a healthy jumper.

Many thanks to Christina Wilsdon, who wrote this piece.

This lovely book about a 12-year-old-girl, Kathy Nelson, and her devotion to the rehabilitation of an aged, sick horse was originally published in 1953 by Thomas Crowell, and was reprinted in 1988 by Linnet Books, an imprint of The Shoe String Press, Inc., in Hamden, Connecticut.

The cover and scattered interior pages feature black-and-white illustrations by renowned children’s-book illustrator Peter Spier. I recall the paperback that I took out of the library (back in the 1960s) having a yellow and orange-red cover; the hardcover reprint has a white dust jacket, with a few details in the black-and-white cover illustration picked out in red.

An Internet, New York Times archives, and general-magazine search via library databases turned up nothing on the author, Frieda K. Brown (listed as F.K. Brown on the book). Perhaps there is an item about her in “Something About the Author,” but I haven’t yet gotten access to this reference.

However, the Linnet reprint of her book has a lovely story about her on the back flap: “Last Hurdle rings true because it is based on truth. Author Frieda K. Brown, like Kathy Nelson in this story, startled her family by bringing home a thirty-year-old horse she had bought for $20.00. The details that make Last Hurdle special—the homemade bridle, the ‘wrong’ kind of saddle—are real, too. Nowadays, Frieda Brown lives on a tree farm in North Carolina with her husband, and true to her childhood affections and loyalties, she runs a ‘rest home’ for old and abused horses.”

That info dates back to 1988, and no amount of searching turned up any easily accessible information beyond that about her whereabouts today. (There are, intriguingly, a few books out there about topics such as allergies, and coal miners of West Virginia, that are by one Claude Frazier Albee and Frieda K. Brown, but this is thus far a dead end.)

The most interesting tidbit I found online indicates in various library records that F.K. Brown (born in 1921) is also F.K. Franklin, author of assorted titles for adult readers such as Combat Nurse (a World War II era story, based on real life experiences) and None But the Brave (set in mid-1800s Kansas).

Christina Wilsdon

Finding the book: reasonably easy to find, particularly in its later printings. First editions in very good condition can be expensive.

Sources and Links:
Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibilography, Scarecrow Press, 1987

Bibliography - horse books only