Thursday, 18 May 2023 12:15

‘Royal Lightning’: New Children’s Book by Local Author Discusses Ups and Downs of Life, World of Competitive Horse Racing

Joyce Anderson with her new book. Photo by Dylan McGlynn. Joyce Anderson with her new book. Photo by Dylan McGlynn.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Life is a rollercoaster, and a new book by local author Joyce Anderson can help educate children on the emotional ups and downs that life presents.

Anderson’s book, ‘Royal Lightning: A Story About a Great Racehorse’, tells the story of young racehorse Royal Lightning, and the triumphs and struggles he endures. The story is told through the point of view of Royal Lightning, and is a detailed look at both the wide range of emotions that a life brings, as well as the world of competitive horse racing.

Anderson has long been a freelance writer, including assignments for Saratoga Today Newspaper, and has experience reporting on horse racing. However, she had not previously written a book for kids. She said ‘Royal Lightning’ began after she was encouraged by a friend to write a children’s book.

“I said, ‘I don’t know if I want to do it,’” said Anderson. “I literally woke up in the morning, and the entire story was in my head, absolutely from beginning to the last page. … And it was exactly what I really wanted to say to children.”

Anderson said the story is not simply about racing, however. 

“First of all, just as a kids book, I wanted it to be a book that kids would love,” Anderson said. “Like, kids wouldn’t necessarily know anything about racing. … So, in that way, it ended up being really educational, and that’s what I was looking for.”

The journey that Royal Lightning takes shows children “the many ups and downs that a life includes,” she said, allowing them to experience a broad range of emotions, including happiness, joy, fear, challenges, triumph, and failure. 

“It gives kids an opportunity to experience a lot of different emotions,” said Anderson. “I really wanted, not as a racing message, but as an emotional thing for children, for children to have a chance to experience those ups and downs, because that is a more realistic image of life.”

She also said that the book can help readers and current racing fans to better understand what racehorses go through, and help them consider what racehorses go through in the process.

The book is recommended for ages 5 to 10, and is self-published, with Anderson saying she worked with a book designer to help her through the process. It is available for purchase at and on Amazon. 

Illustrations for the book were done by Jeanne A. Benas, who Anderson connected with online.

“I think she captured, in each scene, the emotion and the facial expressions perfectly,” Anderson said. “I was very pleased with her work. … It really brings the story to life.”

Anderson said she recently read the book to a group of children, saying it was “a very unique experience.”

“I had not done anything like that before. I didn’t even know if they would have the focus or the attention,” said Anderson. “Because the illustrations are so captivating, once we got into the first few pages, they were looking up at me with their eyes glued at the end. They really, really enjoyed it, and they wanted to know what happened to Royal Lightning.”

Anderson said the reaction to ‘Royal Lightning’ thus far has been “great.”

“It’s really great. I want to get it into as many children’s hands, and maybe even some schools,” Anderson said. “I want to educate the next generation.”

‘Royal Lightning: A Story About a Great Racehorse’ is available at and Amazon.

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