by Marguerite Henry
Listening Age: 5+
There is a death in the immediate family that is handled very quickly and without dreaded detail, though it is for you, the parent, to decide if that is a thematic element that your child can handle.
This was my second time reading this book aloud to my girls, though I think only Fifi remembers it from the first time when she was about 2nd grade. It's a book from the Sonlight Curriculum list, where never a dry read is found!
I. love. this. book!
Behind the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, and Hind's Feet in High Places, there isn't another book that strikes me so accidentally, allegorically Christian as this one.
The story is about a poor baker's boy who has a passionate dream--a lofty goal--to ride the show horses that are sometimes known as the dancing stallions: the Lipizzaners. Through desire, sheer determination, and remarkable initiative, the boy, Hans Haupt, finds his opportunity.
The story subtly teaches good character qualities through Hans' hardships, loss, sacrifice, and humiliations. Time and time again, he proves himself remarkably mature, responsible and strong.
There are some wonderful opportunities to see God's Word proven true in the narrative of this almost completely irreligious story, but my favorite application is at the end when the mystery of a true master rider is revealed, and the Scripture comes to mind in which John the Baptist answered his followers who had come to him concerned about Jesus' rising popularity--that Jesus must increase, but he (John) must decrease.
I give this book an "A+."