this week's vintage children's book is 'shaun & the cart-horse' written and illustrated by charles keeping, published in 1966 by oxford university press.
growing up reading this book i always loved the intense color, and controlled messiness of the illustrations. in the art classes i attended after school we did a lot of wax resist and water color washes so being familiar with the process gave me an added appreciation for charles keeping's illustrations and i was fascinated by the london street scenes.
the story follows shaun, who lived in london with his grandpa. next door there lived a cart pony called queen who was shaun's best friend. uncle charley peel owned queen and often let shaun ride to market with them.
one day shaun sees a stranger leading queen out of the stable yard. shaun rushed inside to ask grandpa what was happening and grandpa told shaun that uncle charley peel was selling queen because he'd been unwell and had no money as he was unable to go to market.
shaun is unhappy about queen being sold, until he comes up with an idea. he waited until grandpa fell asleep and then snuck out to the market. shaun knew the costers loved queen and would be sad she was being sold, too.
he tells peter the ice cream man, the old clothes lady, mrs corby.
then he tells the fish monger, mr codling, and old bean, the coffee seller.
they're all upset, and decide to give one day's earnings to buy queen back for uncle charley peel. shaun is certain he can find queen and runs off to find her. he sees many horses, but none are queen and just as he begins to head home, he sees his friend, scrappy tailor, the rag and bone man. scrappy hasn't seen queen but he tells shaun to go to nicky knacker's yard, as thats where all the old horses go.
shaun finds the man who led queen away, and shaun tells him the costers all want to buy queen back. the man tells shaun to go away, they wouldn't want that old horse back and he can make a much better profit from her! but grandpa and scrappy arrive and the horse dealer agrees to sell her back to them.
the next day they all have a procession back to a very happy uncle charley peel.