Follyfoot by Monica Dickens

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Follyfoot by Monica Dickens

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A welcome reissue of the nineteen-seventies classic proves that it hasn't dated at all: good stories, wonderful characters and some animals you'll love. Definitely recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Andersen Press
ISBN: 978-1849391306

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Follyfoot Farm is the home of the Colonel, his wife and her daughter Callie – along with the stable hands and rather a lot of unwanted, neglected or elderly horses. Some people paid for their horses to retire there but that was unusual and everyone lead a hand-to-mouth existence to give the horses the best life possible. Not everyone feels the same way about the horses though – or about the people who live and work at the farm – and along with looking after the horses the stable hands have to find out what's going on and why.

I did enjoy this book. To begin with it's very realistic. A lot of horses and ponies do come through to have a better and happier life, but not all of them – and sometimes the kindest thing is that the animal has a peaceful death. That's the way it is in life and this book doesn't pretend that there are happy endings on every occasion. Sometimes you'll laugh and sometimes you'll cry. Frequently you'll be furious at the human incompetence and ignorance which causes suffering to animals. Hopefully the young people who have the pleasure of reading this book will be wiser.

It's not just the animals who come alive from the page, either. The people are great. I loved Callie – she's honest with herself and does her best for everyone, even when it isn't always to her advantage. The other stable hands are a wonderful group with their own strengths and weaknesses. Steve in particular is too ready to fight, even if he does try and make sure that it's in a good cause. Dora is happiest at the farm – and sometimes the Colonel has to force her to go home so that her mother doesn't complain.

It was good to see the benefits of riding as exercise too. Toby is a rather sickly child, and the runt of his ne'er-do-well family but he blooms when he finds companionship with a pony and his ill-formed body is nowhere near as obvious when he's on horseback.

I remember buying this book for my daughter – and now it will be my grandchildren who will be reading it, but it doesn't seem at all dated. The children might not carry mobile phones, but life is still the same and the things that really matter haven't changed at all. It's not just in the animal world where there are no easy answers – Monica Dickens handles the problem of bullying sensitively, accepting that than answer isn't always to go and tell an adult. Sometimes that makes matters worse.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Any child who has enjoyed this book will love Nobody's Horse by Jane Smiley and Chancey by Gigi Amateau. Moving away from horses Dewey: The True Story of a World-famous Library Cat by Vicki Myron and Brett Witter is also likely to appeal to any animal-loving child.

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Buy Follyfoot by Monica Dickens at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Follyfoot by Monica Dickens at


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