1. The second sequel novel to My Friend Flicka, written by Mary O'Hara and illustrated, originally, by John Steuart Curry. It was first published in 1946 by Lippincott Press in Philadelphia.
A ten-thousand dollar racing filly being transported to Idaho accidentally falls off the train onto the Goose Bar Ranch in Wyoming. Rescued from her shipping crate by the white stallion, Thunderhead, she is forced to join his band of wild horses. Ken McLaughlin, young owner of the stallion, is surprised to discover Thunderhead's tracks mixed with those of the filly because he believed his horse was safely contained within the Valley of Eagles, high in the Rocky Mountains. Investigating further, he finds that nearly all of Thunderhead's band has been killed by poison grass in the Valley and those who live have escaped to the south. Thunderhead has been stealing mares from Colorado and Wyoming ranches for several months, to rebuild his herd.
Later, the filly's owners show up at the Goose Bar Ranch: Mr. Beaver Greenway, a breeder of race horses from the Blue Moon Ranch in Idaho, and his grandniece Carey, who is accompanied by her demanding, hypochondriac great aunt. Carey is about 16 years old and enjoys the company of both Ken and his older brother, Howard, during the days she spends at the ranch while the men search for her missing filly, Crown Jewel. At the end of the summer, a large group of men (most of whom have lost mares to Thunderhead) ride out to try to capture the stallion and retrieve their horses, including Crown Jewel, but a terrible snowstorm intervenes, postponing the plan until spring.
The following summer, the Greenways return to Wyoming to hunt for Crown Jewel. In one huge roundup, most of the horses in Thunderhead's band are captured and returned to their owners. Thunderhead escapes, and faces the wrath of the local ranchers, who want him to be gelded or shot. Crown Jewel is mysteriously absent, but Ken finds her tracks in the woods.
Meanwhile, Ken and Carey have fallen in love. They are both teenagers with no experience of the opposite sex, but find each other fascinating. Jealously of Howard's attention to Carey causes Ken to battle his brother with fists behind the barn one afternoon, but Howard has no real interest in the girl and soon afterwards he leaves to begin his education at West Point. Ken vows to find Carey's filly before the second summer ends. He feels that he must do something incredibly heroic to prove himself to her. After the big roundup fails to net either Crown Jewel or Thunderhead, Ken rides off into the mountains on Flicka and spends five weeks tracking the missing horses through the wild. At last, Ken retrieves Crown Jewel with her newborn foal, Tumbleweed. The stallion resists the boy, but follows them back to the Goose Bar Ranch where he is captured only after Crown Jewel is trucked away by the Greenways.
Crown Jewel is entered in the Delaware Hunt Cup, a prestigious steeplechase in November, and Ken has agreed to ride her. (Secretly, the two youngsters have become engaged.) After Ken leaves the ranch for the fall school term, Rob McLaughlin intends to geld Thunderhead to keep the horse out of trouble. But riding the stallion, he changes his mind and decides to race him against Crown Jewel in the Hunt Cup instead. Rob is so impressed by the stallion's abilities that he wants to make him the ranch's breeding stud in place of Banner. If Thunderhead can win the race, he will overcome his embarassing pedigree and his offspring will bring high prices, exactly what the struggling Goose Bar finances need!
With more depth than a simple horse-and-boy story, the novel also treats Nell McLaughlin's depression (caused by a thyroid imbalance), the always-stormy relationship between Rob and Ken, and the Carey's struggle to defy her great aunt and stand up for herself. This book has more characters than either of the previous ones in the series, including Penny, the new McLaughlin baby, the hired cook, and the Greenways. It also brings up the subject of religion, when Nell gives words of advice to Howard before he departs for school, and also when Ken is forced to honestly examine his soul during the weeks he tracks Crown Jewel in complete isolation. Mary O'Hara does an excellent job of making her characters seem real, and not static, but growing and learning and changing all the time. She writes about her characters' believable issues, and does so in an entertaining way. In addition to the basketweave plot and wonderful set of characters, Mary O'Hara continues to describe Wyoming as the most beautiful place in the world.
2. An unrated film based on the novel, released in 1948 by 20th Century Fox. Directed by Louis King (who also directed "Thunderhead, Son of Flicka"), but with an all-new cast, the film simplifies the book and focuses on the romance between Ken and Carey. The Greenways are portrayed as rival horse breeders, giving the plot more of a "Romeo and Juliet" twist.1 The feeling of romance also affects the horses, Crown Jewel and Thunderhead. Filmed in Technicolor, with a running time of 89 minutes, the movie climaxes with the great race between Crown Jewel and Thunderhead. For their work on this film, Martin Berkeley was nominated for the 1949 WGA* Screen Award for "Best Written American Western" and Charles G. Clarke was nominated for the 1949 Academy Award for "Best Cinematography-Color."2
* The Writers Guild of America can be found at www.wga.org
Also, information about the novel is from reading it myself; I have not yet seen the film so the plot synopsis (from TV Guide) may not be entirely accurate.