Little Vic.  Doris Gates

Viking, 1951; Awarded 1954.

Synopsis:  LITTLE VIC is the story of Pony Rivers and his love for Little Vic, grandson of the famous race horse, Man 0' War. The story traces the progress of the orphaned Pony Rivers from New York City to the winner's circle at California's Santa Anita Race Track. He reaches this destination because of his love for Little Vic, whom he has been with throughout the horse's young life and in whom he kept faith when all others had given up. Both boy and horse prove themselves when, riding at night on the Arizona ranch to which the horse has been sent for training, they rescue a group of campers from a flash flood. Then the boy truly understands the horse's greatness and the victory in the Santa Anita Handicap follows quickly.

Themes: Horse training; Race relations; Blue grass country; Horse racing; Orphans

Author information: Doris Gates was born November 26, 1901 in Mountain View, California. She was educated at Fresno State Teachers College, Los Angeles Library School, and Western Reserve University. She was a children's librarian from 1930 to 1940 in the Fresno County library, an instructor in San Jose State College, and a visiting lecturer. Her writing for children cover a wide variety of subjects. Doris Gates died in 1987.

Discussion questions:
1. What was Pony's racial background? Where in the story was the first clue to the answer of this question? How did this influence the relationship Pony had with Joe Hills? What caused the rift between them to be healed?  Standard 9, Benchmark 2
2. Discuss the origin of Little Vic's name. What happened on the afternoon he was named that contributed to Pony being allowed to choose the name?  Standard 3, Benchmark 3
3. What part of the United States is known as blue grass country?  Standard 1, Benchmark 5

Activities:
1. On a map of the United States, starting with Pony's birthplace, point out the locations covered in LITTLE VIC. This would include New York, Spring Valley Farm, Florida, S.W. Arizona, and Santa Anita, California.  Standard 1, Benchmark 5
2. Describe the jobs Pony worked, starting with his arrival at Spring Valley Farm and ending with riding Little Vic in the Santa Anita Handicap.  Standard 2, Benchmark 4
3.  Art project suggestions: Sculpt a horse's head from clay. Cut and fold paper to form a horse's body.  Standard 5, Benchmark 3