Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse

Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse

Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse

by Ursula Moray Williams

originally published by George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., London, 1938

253 pp. – 19 chapters

Age: (read to) 4+ ; (independent reading) 7+

Interests: horses, toys come to life, travel, adventures, pirates, circus

by the same author: Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat, The Further Adventures of Gobbolino and the Little Wooden Horse

A little wooden horse serves his master, the toymaker Uncle Peder, faithfully, but when they fall upon hard times the horse goes out into the world to seek his fortune. The little horse is strong and hardworking, but far too trusting, and makes and loses several fortunes along the way. His adventures include working for a harsh farmer, hauling a canal barge, pulling a royal carriage, performing in a circus, and saving the life of a drowning pirate. In every instance the little horse does what’s right, works very hard, perseveres, and continues on his way despite various turns of fortune. In the end he finds his way back for a joyful reunion with Uncle Peder.

adventures-of-the-little-wooden-horseThis is an excellent read-aloud book, as the story should captivate the very young. The heroic wooden horse is an admirable role model, and faces adversity with courage and strength. The chapters are not too long, and often end with a cliff-hanger, so listeners may clamour for more than one chapter at a time.

Apparently this is a well-known classic in Britain, though I’d never heard of it before. I particularly liked how a living, talking wooden horse doesn’t strike any of the human characters as strange. One wonders at times how the horse manages to do certain things (ie. how does he pick up coins, how does he unscrew his own head with those hooves?), but sometimes it’s best to just roll with the premise.

At the beginning of his adventures he is treated very harshly and exploited by unscrupulous people and animals, and is even conned out of his earnings a few times. Young listeners may be upset at the injustice of it all, but as the chapters proceed the wooden horse encounters more good people – even the pirate he helps out turns out to have a heart of gold and rewards him with a generous share of pirate treasure, which he delivers to the penniless Uncle Peder for a “happily ever after” ending.

(The probability that the gold and gems are ill-gotten gains doesn’t bother the horse or his master, which is good, because a more principled stance – ie. turning down the pirate’s riches – would only mystify and frustrate young listeners!)

Old-fashioned and straight-forward, this book is a great introduction to chapter books, if you’d like to begin reading longer books to your child at bedtime. It’s easy to follow and the wooden horse’s feelings and thoughts in every predicament are made very clear. The dangers and hard times are at times quite dark, but the horse’s attitude and perseverance are inspiring.

(available at


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mary Gilmartin
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 17:50:03

    This book looks like a great classic from 1938. Thanks for the posting.


    • Kim
      Jan 17, 2013 @ 21:58:25

      Yes, I am a sucker for the old classics! This one I discovered quite by chance but it was a lovely find. Thanks for visiting my blog!


  2. Mary Gilmartin
    Jan 18, 2013 @ 05:17:38

    You’re welcome. For some reason I like old books even the ones that are torn and forgotten.


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