Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Smoky the Cowhorse” as Want to Read:
Smoky the Cowhorse
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Smoky the Cowhorse

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,034 Ratings  ·  201 Reviews
Smoky knows only one way of life: freedom. Living on the open range, he is free to go where he wants and to do what he wants. And he knows what he has to do to survive. He can beat any enemy, whether it be a rattlesnake or a hungry wolf. He is as much a part of the Wild West as it is of him, and Smoky can't imagine anything else.

But then he comes across a new enemy, one
Paperback, 323 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Aladdin (first published 1926)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 20, 2008 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
So glad I'm finally done with this book.

The written-in-dialect thing is interesting, and occasionally even poetic, and I might have thought this was a fairly good book if it was really, really short. But 300+ pages of double negatives and other grammar mistakes was hard to wade through.

As others have said, it does get more interesting in the last 100 pages (there's a story), but it's still not that great; and there's a dreadful racial stereotype (evil "halfbreed" Mexican/African American, always
Apr 04, 2009 Josiah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"There was so much life wrapped up in that pony's hide that it was mighty hard for him to settle down and behave...he sometimes had to bust out and do things that wasn't at all proper..."

--Smoky the Cowhorse, P.47

"The poor (horse) had sure got a reason to be mean, and I guess he's at the point where he figgers no human is his friend any more." --Smoky the Cowhorse, P. 229

Wow. My expectations for a book with the Newbery Medal gracing the cover are always sky high, but Smoky the Cowhorse met ea
Jul 20, 2015 Charlton rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read this book to my little girl (who is now 26) when she was in the elementary(first learning to read).
It's a good horse book telling the life of Smoky and that part I think is what fascinates children.How he starts off shy and timid.But when he's moved to the working ranch He toughens up gets stronger.
Oct 07, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horses-fiction
I first read this book in the fifth grade (oh, so long ago...) and I loved it. I re-read it every year until I graduated high school and loved it every time. I'm not sure I'd still love it quite so much if I was reading it for the first time as an adult, as I haven't read it since, but I look on it with fond memories.

If you have a horse crazy son or daughter, I would definitely add this book to their library, right next to The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague and My Friend Fli
May 12, 2011 Susannah rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was 12 and it left a very lasting impression on me. At one point in my life about 15 years ago I was in a book group and I said this book was one of my favorites. My friends, under the influence of wine, laughed. I was mortified. Later, one of them who is a really GREAT friend bought me an original copy from an antique store - which I treasure. There is actually a Will James Society in Montana, so I think I am not crazy when I say that this book contributed greatly to my ...more
Benji Martin
May 06, 2014 Benji Martin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I woke up to a beautiful morning. It was a stereotypical beautiful morning. The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was nice and cool. We’re in the middle of an pleasant Alabama spring, which lasts for like two weeks before the scorching heat sets in, and makes everything miserable until November. By far, though, the most beautiful part about waking up this morning, was that, as of last night, I was no longer in the middle of Smoky the Cow Horse.

I’m finished! Through! I feel lik
May 31, 2010 Eleni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In the movie Tex the teacher tells Tex,

"You can't do two book reports on Smokey The Cow Horse."

He says, "But I read it twice."

I grew up in central California. In the third grade (I think) the teacher read a few pages a day from the book. Reading it all these years later was an emotional trip Dow memory lane. Farming, ranching, oil and the military were the economic basis of life in my home town. Maybe half the kids in my elementary school lived out in the country and rode the bus daily to sc
Wayne S.
Nov 14, 2012 Wayne S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Smoky is a mouse-colored horse which is born on the range. After a couple of years, he is taken to the Rocking R Ranch where he is trained by a thirty-year-old cowboy named Clint to be a cowhorse. The cowhorses work during the spring, summer, and fall on the ranch, but are let back out on the range to forage in the winter. Clint, who is especially fond of the mouse-colored horse, always tries to check on Smoky through each winter, but one year he is detained for several reasons, and when he fina ...more
Deborah Blair
Mar 16, 2013 Deborah Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children and adults who love horses, nature and real old time cowboys
Recommended to Deborah by: My dear maternal Grandmother - Florida Bell Irvine Leitch
Shelves: children-s-books
This was one of my most cherished books as a child. My maternal Grandmother, Florida Bell Irvine Leitch, was an educated school teacher at the turn of the 1900s, when few ladies had educations - - - she would hitch rides on milk wagons to get to the one room school houses that she taught in. Her family were poor, but good, Presbyterian Scots who dedicated themselves to educating and helping the poor miners' children and others. Although she could only guess at what my mother and aunts were doing ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-winners
Newbery Medal Winner--1927

This one is two star because the description fits--it was okay. The first 150 pages or so run long--it's basically a running description of the day-to-day life of Smoky the horse. A run-in with wolves is somewhat exciting, and the processing of breaking Smoky by Clint was interesting, but it kind of gets depressing from there. The one shining moment is when Old Tom tries to take Smoky from Clint and is thrown repeatedly--but what follows is a sad tale of being stolen, a
May 16, 2012 Darlis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to hurry up and read this so I could help my grandson Bryan with a book report. I was actually surprised that I liked the book. The first part appeals to my environmental nature by explaining what life is like for wild mustangs out in the wild. I love the descriptions! The second part appeals to my love of cowboys in the Old West. I loved the descriptions of branding, roping, cattle drives, round ups, and tales of ranch life. I liked (that might not be the right word) tales of what happene ...more
Dixie Diamond
Black Beauty for the cowgirl.

I understand readers' concerns re: racism and sexism. Obviously I don't condone it, but we do understand, don't we, that those attitudes are par for the course in literature that age? Even Louisa May Alcott wrote rather disparagingly of the Irish in Little Women. Instead of being smug and judgmental about the grammar (which was intentional, anyway) and attitudes, how about using it as a discussion starter about (well, a lot of things): Racial attitudes, treatment of
It took me a while to get past the cowboy dialect of the narrator -- to stop correcting the grammar in my head as I read -- and to stop hearing Morgan Freeman's voice doing the narrating (yes, Morgan Freeman speaking in cowboy dialect was very distracting for me!), but once I got past all that, the narrative voice added a a wonderful, heartfelt perspective to the story. This is a beautiful book that will grab your heart, make it sing, and then break it into a million pieces. Told from the point ...more
Smoky the Cow Horse tells the story of that unique, deep bond that sometimes happens between a human and his pet--although "pet" is a misnomer here. This story is stunning and beautiful, the narrator's unique sit-back-and-let-me-tell-you-a-tale voice patiently tying your heartstrings to Smoky. And--patience is what you need with this book because James takes the time to really develop the relationship between the reader and Smoky. It's worth it. A beautiful story of true love and it's ability to ...more
Mar 17, 2012 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
I never saw a mouse that was the rich black color shown on the cover of this book and in the line drawings within the book. So I did not like that Smoky was continually called a mouse colored horse. I also did not like the old cowboy grammer. I cannot imagine any modern child I know being able to get through this book. Near the end, when Smoky said exactly what I think my horse on few and far between trail rides is saying about me, I had to laugh and think that Clint, Smoky, and Will James reall ...more
Lianna VH
Mar 07, 2016 Lianna VH rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Will James' 'Smoky the Cow Horse' is a spectacularly written, "oldie but goodie," as the saying goes. The book begins by describing Smoky as a wild colt on the range, growing up in a close-knit family band, then moves on to his "breaking in" by a very experienced "Bronco Twister," Clint, who works for the Rocking R cattle outfit. Together, Smoky and Clint go on a number of adventures on the range, and Smoky is shaping up to be a fine cow-horse. Then, one Spring, he is nowhere to be found. Most o ...more
Mar 04, 2016 Kathi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
Although I know this 1926 Newbery winner could not compete for the award today, I think Smoky is the best of the “old Newberys.”

The book was slow going in the beginning and the middle, filled with many, many details about Smoky’s happy young life in the wild before he encountered humans. There are lots more details once Smoky meets Clint, the cowboy who loves him. Clint recognizes Smoky’s impressive intelligence and helps him become a truly amazing one-man cowhorse.

The affection for Smoky that
Mar 17, 2016 Becky rated it really liked it
I read this book multiple times as a kid (the version with James' illustrations). It was one of my favorite horse books and I think the cowboy language (bad grammar and all!) adds to the authenticity. It has a storyline similar to Black Beauty but is set in the western United States. A horse and cowboy form a strong bond, they get separated and the horse passes through several owners, some of them cruel. At the end the horse and cowboy reunite. It's interesting to learn about cowboys' work, way ...more
Erika Quiroz
Jan 23, 2015 Erika Quiroz rated it it was amazing
As I read through the reviews, it appears that Smoky the Cowhorse is one of those books that you either love or hate. I can't help but fall into the category of love. As someone who's grown up in Montana, near where Will James called home, perhaps I relate to the story more than some. I can see where the slang would bother many, but as I actually know people who speak in that particular manner, I felt right at home. James does a wonderful job of painting the cowboy lifestyle. I love his adamant ...more
Jun 22, 2015 D.C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newberies
Believe it or not, I'm almost tempted to give this one three stars. It uses a rather clever mechanism to symbolize coming-of-age, hardening of the heart, and true love. It's like The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane with a horse. And I think it would have gotten three if there weren't far too many tediously snoozeworthy sections of equine descriptions (mostly about fights) that had me flipping the pages without reading much of what was on them. And yes, there are a couple bad racial caricatur ...more
Smoky is the greatest! He reminds me of my cat, a little, actually...

Everyone knows (?) that I think writing in vernacular is the most annoying thing ever to read but I managed to not be too bothered by it in this one. Maybe it helps that this book is short and I read it in little bits over a couple weeks, just here and there, so I wasn't too inundated.

Go, free-range horses and cattle!

Meanwhile, are ALL the early Newbery winners hopelessly racist? Sure enough, in the last third of the book alon
Apr 09, 2014 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to plow through this book. In the end, I wanted to finish it and find out what happened to Smoky, but it took way too long to get there. I am reading all of these books with the intention to find out if I can recommend them to students. I can think of one boy in our school who might want to read this book. He is a cowboy through and through and has already found every book on cowboys in our library. The story is written as if it were being told by an old cowboy. If you rea ...more
Mar 25, 2008 Bronson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We read this a couple years ago and my boy who was about 6 at the time loved it. I enjoyed it as well although I found it difficult to read out loud because the grammar the characters use is terrible! But that really adds to the fun of the story. Its follows the life of Smoky through good times and bad. I would recommend this to anyone who likes horses or longs for the old west.
Jun 19, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-s
What a writer really. A true to the time story that ranks with all the great Horse writers. This is one of those authers that is lost to the modern generation. The story was engaging and fun. The views on the mexican population were racest but it is a book of it's time period. The edition I read had the auther's illstrations as well and they were just beautiful.
Mar 21, 2011 May rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is my second favorite book...i really love the went through a lot of trouble from the day it was born...i even hated the people who wanted to hurt smoky...smoky got a lot of names and have been to a lot of places and he was hurt...but i was really glad when he meet up with his partner again at the end...i even's no joke...
Angie Lisle
1927 Newbery Award Winner

A long-winded story paying homage to a cowboy's horse. The plot isn't bad, it shows why animal rights are necessary, but the writing is a challenge.

And it all comes down to dialect. This story attempts to preserve old western dialect with its incorrect grammar and lingo. At times, the dialect is endearing and nostalgic but, more often than not, it's frustrating because James forces the dialect. The edition I read had through spelled thru, tho for though, apelusa for App
Aug 07, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book because I'm reading all of the Newberry Honor Books thanks to Tammy's great list of them. I loved this book. It is heart-warming and exciting and funny and sweet. It's got some great life lessons in it from the perspective of a good little pony named Smoky.
Apr 20, 2016 Gretyl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the 1920's era Newbery Medal winners, "Smoky: the cowhorse" ranks right up there with my favorites. It is reminiscent of Black Beauty or National Velvet in the compelling and heartbreaking life story of one wild horse. Will James was a horseman himself, and this is clear through his vivid descriptions of ranch and rodeo life. This harkens back to old Westerns for children, and may not be as appealing today except to those intrigued by stories of horses and/or the old West. James does a wonder ...more
Colby Sharp
Feb 07, 2012 Colby Sharp rated it liked it
I can't tell if this book is 3 stars or 2 stars. The 3 Newbery books before Smoky were so hard for me to read, that Smoky seemed so good. I wish it were 200 hundred pages shorter.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Children's Books: Winner (no Honors) from 1927 - Smoky the Cow Horse 6 68 Dec 08, 2013 02:34PM  
  • Tales From Silver Lands
  • Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon
  • Dobry
  • Waterless Mountain
  • The Dark Frigate
  • Daniel Boone
  • The White Stag
  • Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children
  • ...And Now Miguel
  • The Story of Mankind
  • Miss Hickory
  • Secret of the Andes
  • Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
  • Roller Skates
  • A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
  • Shadow Of A Bull
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great
  • Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women
Will James (1892-1942), artist and writer of the American West, was born Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault. It was during his creative years everyone grew to know him as Will James. During the next several years, he drifted, worked at several jobs, was briefly jailed for cattle rustling, served in the army, and began selling his sketches and in 1922 sold his first writing, Bucking Horse Riders. The s ...more
More about Will James...

Share This Book

“For that pony had got tangled up in the cowboy's heartstrings a heap more than that cowboy wanted to let on, even to himself. He couldn't get away from how he missed him.” 9 likes
“There was so much life wrapped up in that pony's hide that it was mighty hard for him to settle down and behave...he sometimes had to bust out and do things that wasn't at all proper...” 6 likes
More quotes…