________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 20 . . . .May 25, 2007


Little Squire: The Jumping Pony. (True Horse Stories).

Judy Andrekson. Illustrated by David Parkins.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2007.
67 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-770-8.

Subject Headings:
Little Squire (Horse)-Juvenile literature.
Show jumpers (Horses)-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Connemara pony-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Ponies-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Lizanne Eastwood.

*** /4



Little Squire: The Jumping Pony is part of a new series of horse stories for animal-loving early readers. Never having read many horse stories myself, I was surprised to find myself captivated by the story of a small horse born in Ireland in the 1920s and a young Irishman named Mickey Walsh. Young Mickey, rebelling against his father, decides to emigrate to New York City during the Roaring 20's.

In the beautiful countryside and with a family steeped in horsemanship for generations, Mickey lived a horseman's dream, but a boy doesn't often see the treasure that is right before him. Mickey longed for a change from his quiet life, and he ached for adventure. This, he believed, awaited him in the land across the ocean.

     Unfortunately, New York City was not the place of wonder and golden opportunities that many immigrants imagined. Americans often acted unfriendly and unwelcomingly towards the four million Irish immigrants who had landed on American shores over the past 50 years. Mickey was surprised by the cold reception and the signs in windows reading "Help wanted, Irish need not apply." And, although he was surprised, he was not discouraged. After a number of both back and spirit breaking jobs, Mickey, a natural horseman, found himself back working with horses. Although this was something he vowed he would never do, his life took an upward turn after he started working in the private stables of Mr. Gerald Melbourne of Long Island. Mickey and his new bride, Katherine, and young son, Thomas, worked for the Melbourne's for a number of years, until the Great Depression of 1929 hit America.

     First Attempt, as Little Squire was first known, was a skilled little pony with a beautiful temperament and a winning spirit and was the wonder of the New York jumping scene. In the spring of 1938, Danny Walsh was able to convince his employer to purchase Little Squire, and from there history was made. Both horse and rider captured the hearts of Americans. Through a series of quick and exciting chapters, readers are led through a succession of horse shows wherein Little Squire astounds the crowds and wins many championships.

      Little Squire is a true story based on the recollections of friends and family of Mickey Walsh. Author Judy Andrekson's love of horses rings clear and true. The illustrations by David Parkins imbue a sense of joy which is seen in the faces of both humans and horse. This is a lovely book, and I would recommend it not only to horse lovers, but to young readers who enjoy historical fiction.

Highly Recommended.

Lizanne Eastwood is a Family Literacy Coordinator with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, a casual library employee, and a homeschooling parent of two active teenagers in Grand Forks, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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