Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

From its dedication to Marguerite Henry’s own Morgan horse, Friday, and to her friend Fred Tejan, who gentled him, Justin Morgan Had Horse proceeds through eighteen chapters of straightforward chronology, beginning with Joel Goss’s apprenticeship in 1795 and ending with his recovery of Little Bub during the winter following the War of 1812. In her foreword, Henry establishes both the legendary qualities of the original Morgan horse and the authenticity of the breed’s contribution to the settling of the United States. The novel concludes with a page of acknowledgements (including descendants of Justin Morgan and of Joel Goss) and a list of more than sixty works that Henry consulted to provide an authentic historical and geographical setting.

Henry’s third-person narration, flavored with occasional letters and frequent conversations, allows the reader access to Joel’s thoughts and emotions as well as glimpses into the minds of his friends. Little Bub displays his personality by his actions and by his distinctive snorting nicker; in addition, the reader sees the Morgan horse through Joel’s loving eyes and through the comments of the Vermonters who admire the little stallion. Wesley Dennis’ vivid illustrations, occurring every two or three pages, enhance Henry’s depictions of her characters and especially of Little Bub.

Justin Morgan, the local singing master and schoolteacher, takes Joel as his helper on a summer-long...

(The entire section is 509 words.)