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Marguerite Henry

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Location: Travelers Rest SC

Marguerite Henry

Postby Leyland » Sun August 31st, 2008, 2:11 am

I still have my 1971 edition of King of the Wind and read it over every now and then because it remains one of my favorite books for young readers. I never thought about it being HF as a kid, but Henry’s fictionalized version of the Godolphin Arabian’s story takes place in the 18th century, so it does qualify.

The headstrong and ill-looking bay Arab horse called Sham travels under the care of a young mute stableboy from Tunis to Louis XV’s stable, ends up working as a carthorse under inhumane conditions on the streets of Paris, and is eventually brought to a couple of English estates; enduring cruelty and kindnesses along the way until the stallion finally proves his value as a racehorse stud in a very dramatic scene.

I believe Henry embellished upon and took creative license with Sham’s true story not only to entertain young readers, but to teach them about compassion, heroic action concerning the rescue of abused animals and to broaden their horizons with a mix of cultures and religions. Sham’s lifelong attachment to Agba, the stableboy, and to a cat named Grimalkin are important elements of the story and I can’t imagine any kid that doesn’t identify with this ‘horse and his boy and cat’ story.

I think it’s still a wonderful story for today’s young readers and wanted to bring attention to this sixty year old Newberry Medal winner. I've also loved Wesley Dennis' illustrations and consider them to be unique and essential to this book.

For more precise information about the Godolphin Arabian click on


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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun August 31st, 2008, 3:24 am

King of the Wind started my horse craze -- and my reading craze! I read through every one of Marguerite Henry's books and mooned over having horses. (which, living in the middle of LA, was not a possibility!)
It's a great story.

Last year, I got the book for a young friend and re-read it for myself first -- only to be reminded, to my horror, that the foal Sham had been hand-raised! Now that I know more about livestock and imprinting, I know very well why that stallion would have been as impossible to handle (if he had in fact been hand-raised) as the Godolphin Arabian had a reputation for being. In herbivores, hand-raised males don't grow up to be pet-like (as they would in carnivores like dogs and cats), they grow up to try and dominate other members of what they think is their species -- human-- just like a stallion or bull would with other horses or cows. Except they get crazier and more dangerous by the year as they cannot make their world work to fit their instinct patterns, eventually dying of ulcers or colic at an early age, or having to be put down for nearly killing someone.

In llamas, we call hand-raised males 'berserkers', as in "He was so sweet and cuddly when he was a baby, but then one day he just went berserk!" Although what really happened is that having reached sexual maturity, the mis-imprinted llama tried to move up in the pecking order.

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Location: Travelers Rest SC

Black Gold

Postby Leyland » Sun August 31st, 2008, 12:33 pm

The other Marguerite Henry book I love equally with KOTW is Black Gold, about a small Throroughbred racer in the 1920's. BG's story could be HF, I think.

This racehorse story needs little to none fictionalization since BG's owner, a member of the Osage Nation, trainer and jockey were actually quite interesting people. The story begins with BG's dam and her owner, Al Hoots. The owner loses her and resolves the dilemma to keep her by using near violence. Harsh consequences for both him and the mare's racing career ensue but Al had big dreams for breeding her to a great Kentucky stud. His wife fulfills his dreams for the mare and the story flows with poignancy and determination.

The human characters aren't perfect and have had difficulties to overcome, but their devotion to Black Gold makes a reader cheer them on. The ending is simply heartbreaking, but so well written particularly for the sensibility of children. I don't want to include many details that might spoil the reading experience for anyone who hasn't read the book. Black Gold's relatively short racing career was illustrious and Henry chose another wonderful animal to work her magic upon.
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

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Location: Georgia, USA

Postby MLS859 » Sun August 31st, 2008, 12:50 pm

And, how about MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE? I loved all of Marguerite Henry's books -- as well as Walter Farley's BLACK STALLION novels.

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Location: Pendleton, Oregon

Postby SarahWoodbury » Wed April 8th, 2009, 3:53 am

I went through such a 'horse' phase when I was 8-12. I was convinced we could have a horse in our back garden. My daughter felt the same way and it was so fun getting out all my Marguerite Henry books (plus ten others) for her. I loved Misty of Chincoteague. I think that was the first one I read.

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Location: Nottingham UK

Postby EC2 » Thu April 9th, 2009, 9:22 am

I never got around to Marguerite Henry but nevertheless I was a horse mad child. Elyne Mitchell's Silver Brumby series was my particular bag (think I'd be about 6 or 7 when I read the first one) and also the Mary O'Hara My Friend Flicker series. Devoured all of them several times!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal


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Location: Georgia USA

Postby Ludmilla » Thu April 9th, 2009, 2:07 pm

"SarahWoodbury" wrote:I went through such a 'horse' phase when I was 8-12.

I did too! I almost think it may be part of a young person's reading rite-of-passage going through that phase. I rememeber spending one summer reading nothing but horse fiction checked out from the local library. I know I read some of Henry's, but I've had a hard time remembering which ones. I hope to re-read some of these to refresh my memory and to share them with my girls when they show an interest.

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Postby ellenjane » Thu April 9th, 2009, 8:00 pm

I loved Misty of Chincoteague! I remember that I read King of the Wind and some of her others. I, too, had a horse phase - I wrote a letter to the library requesting that they get some more horse books. :)

In an odd coincidence, Marguerite Henry's estate donated the rights to all of her work to the college where I work.

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