King of the Wind

King+of+the+WindNEWBERY MEDAL WINNER – 1949

King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian

by Marguerite Henry

Age: 8+

Interests: horses, animals, horse racing, history, sport

192 pages, 24 chapters

Rand McNally: 1948

Also by this author: Misty of Chincoteague, Sea Star, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Brighty of the Grand Canyon and many others

Famous horse books by other authors: Come on Sea Biscuit!, National Velvet, Smokey the Cowhorse, Black Beauty, My Friend Flicka, The Black Stallion, We Couldn’t Leave DinahHorses in Battle

The Sultan sends six Arabian horses as a gift to the King of France, one of which is named Sham and accompanied by the mute stable hand Agba. After a long voyage by ship the horses arrive nearly starved, and do not impress the French court. After a stint as a Paris carthorse, Sham and Agba find themselves in England, and after many hardships end up at the farm of a racehorse breeder. Sham is renamed the Godolphin Arabian and sires a line of amazing racehorses, a line which includes the great American horse Man o’ War.

Based loosely on historical facts, Henry has filled in the unknown gaps in the famous horse’s history with episodes of great hardship and drama. Horse stories often focus upon the vulnerability of animals in the care of cruel owners, and this story is no exception. In fact, since the stable boy Agba is also mute, their helplessness is heightened even more.

Any young readers who are avid horse lovers will sooner or later come across the many books of Marguerite Henry, and this is perhaps her most celebrated title. I have to admit I found it a little uninvolving – the melodrama was a bit too extreme for me, and I didn’t feel all that invested in the characters, however, anyone who is truly crazy about horses will probably love this book. The ending may be a little too downbeat for younger readers, though, since Sham himself never gets to race and show off his own talent, but must be content with watching the success of his offspring.

It’s a quick read, with short, easy chapters, and a lively pace – for a book written in the 1940s, it’s surprisingly modern in language and tone. The fact that it is based on true events should make it even more interesting for those who follow horse racing. Definitely a good pick for anyone who loves horses.

(available at



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. karinmatey
    Apr 09, 2014 @ 18:09:17

    Reblogged this on Sebastian's Adventures.


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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