Kathryn (Katie) Cocquyt has the best of two worlds. She and her husband train and breed show and race horses on their Simi Valley ranch, and she draws on her experiences with the animals to write books for children.
Coming from the backstretch to win the big race, or to earn ribbons in jumping competitions is every horse lover's fantasy.
When Cocquyt was a child she desperately wanted a horse of her own. As a young woman the dream was realized when her husband gave her Mardi Gras, a horse Cocquyt says is still her best friend. Cocquyt went on to work as an editor for a short time, after earning a degree in English literature.
But the passion for horses wouldn't subside, so she hired on at a Santa Anita racing stable to spend all her time learning about breeding and racing horses. Katie and her husband began breeding thoroughbreds in 1986 with the birth of Rue Royale, the real life archetype for the fictional "Little Freddie."
Cocquyt's first book, "Little Freddie at the Kentucky Derby," was published in 1992 by Pelican Publishing of Louisiana. The just released "Little Freddie's Legacy" continues the adventures of a special family of horses. "I write stories about these magnificent animals in order to inspire children to face their own challenges in life," says Cocquyt, who also lectures on the history of the horse to schoolchildren in Southern California and Kentucky, where she tours every April before the Kentucky Derby. The "Little Freddie" books are for children 8 to 12 and are wonderfully illustrated by Sylvia Corbett of Simi Valley.
PLAN AHEAD: Jeffery Deaver will sign "Praying for Sleep" at 1 p.m. April 7 at Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks.
Michael Foley will describe "Ten Ways to Improve Your Business Writing" from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. April 7 at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road. The fee is $38. Call 654-6459.
Michel Englebert, recently returned from Japan where he lived for 10 years, will read from his new "American Epic" poem at 8 p.m. April 7 at Cafe Voltaire, 34 N. Palm St., Ventura. Now a resident of Channel Islands Harbor, Englebert was born in Africa and raised in Belgium. By age 5, he was touring Europe performing poetic fables as Le Petit Michel. He came to America when he was 9 to appear on "The Jack Paar Show," which launched his career as a child actor. Since earning a masters in fine arts at UC Irvine, his poetry has been published in a number of literary journals, including American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and The Progressive. Call 985-1908 for details.