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Finest Horse in TownThe Finest Horse in Town
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Susan Gaber
Purple House Press, 2006
ISBN: 978193090082


The Finest Horse in Town is a book about two of my mother's aunts who really lived in Maine in the 1800s and early 1900s.  They owned a store in their town and sold "clothes and socks, cloth and corsets, needles and pins, and all kinds of shoes." One summer my mother, my daughter Sarah, and I decided we would like to learn more about these aunts. We could not ask questions because my aunts were no longer living. We went to the town where they had owned their store to do some "detective work." We found an old newspaper ad that also told us they sold coats and petticoats. Those were the days before automobiles when horses provided the rides from one place to another. An old man, the town's watchmaker, who remembered them told us that my aunts also owned "the finest horse in town." I wrote these stories to help me think about what adventures these sisters might have had with their wonderful horse.


Martin found this advertisement for the aunts' dry goods store. The aunts' last name was Prince.
Finest Horse in Town Poster

A Writing Guide

Jacqueline Briggs Martin has written a curriculum guide (2003) on researching and writing family stories for the Iowa Social Studies Project. The guide, with background information on The Finest Horse in Town suggests writing projects for students. The guide was funded by a federal grant and is available free for educational purposes. Download Writing Your Own Story (PDF file) --This is a 30-page booklet which may be reproduced in color or black and white. The guide is free for educational use but must be reprinted with the copyright and acknowledgement page included on all copies reprinted. You may wish to print a duplicate of page 1 (the cover) on card stock. Add a blank piece of card stock to the back and spiral bind.

A Writing Idea:

Martin: "I really did not know who took care of the horse while the sisters worked in their dry goods store so I made up three stories that I thought might have happened."
Think of another story about the horse and who took care of it while the sisters worked. Tell the story to a classmate, make an audio recording, or write the story for others to read.

Find out more about horses by reading one of these books:

  • DK Publishing.Ponies and Horses. (DK Readers Pre-Level 1 series). DK Publishing, 2009.
  • DK Publishing.Horses. (DK Eyewitness Books series). DK Publishing, 2009.
  • Henry, Marguerite.Album of Horses. Simon & Schuster, 1993.
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