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My Friend Flicka Paperback – April 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mary O’Hara was born on July 10, 1885, in Cape May Point, New Jersey. She was a screenwriter during the silent film era and wrote several novels, including the range country trilogy My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and Green Grass of Wyoming. She also authored a novella, The Catch Colt, and Wyoming Summer, based on her diary of sixteen years. She died on October 14, 1980.

From AudioFile

This classic story about a boy and his horse still stands strong. It's more an inspiring account of growing up and gaining self-assurance than it is a horse story. Wells is a surprising choice for narrating this book. His voice is urban and sophisticated, with no hint of soft edges that might be more suitable for a novel set in a simpler time in the American West. Fortunately, Wells deftly handles the life lessons discovered by 9-year-old Ken. Through Wells's voice we sense the vast gap between Ken's gentle mother and his demanding father, and what each parent brings to the son. N.M.C. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reissue edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061374636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061374630
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on July 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
Long relegated to the ranks of children's books, My Friend Flicka is indeed a wonderful story for a thoughtful child. I first read it at the age of 9, and have read it many, many more times throughout my life.
As a 9-year-old, I loved the story of the sensitive boy, Ken, and his filly Flicka, who has questionable bloodlines and does not meet with the approval of Ken's stern rancher father, Rob McLaughlin. Boy and horse must surmount that initial disapproval and all sorts of other challenges as they struggle and grow together.
But on another level entirely, My Friend Flicka is the story of a marriage that is so real, so adult, and so compelling, that any adult can appreciate the story. In a nutshell: Rob McLaughlin, a former captain in the Army (this was written shortly after World War II), is struggling to make a success of his Goose Bar Ranch, where he raises thoroughbreds in the rugged Wyoming countryside. His wife, Nell, is a blueblood from the East whose apparent fragility masks an inner strength that is Rob's lifeline. A delicate-looking beauty, Nell nevertheless can deliver foals at midnight, weather all the storms that ranching throws her way, and still feed a hungry crew of workers three times a day.
Rob and Nell's marriage is strong and passionate. But their one bone of contention is their second son, Ken, a daydreamer who simply does not fit the mold of Rob's ideal son. Older boy Howard is the perfect McLaughlin: athletic, strong, personable, talented, outgoing. Ken is slight, small, quiet, sickly, and above all, a creative dreamer. But when he sets his sights on a horse of which his father strongly disapproves, Nell fiercely backs his choice. And Ken begins to grow as a man--in his own way and in his own speed. And Rob learns some strong lessons about being a man, a father, and a husband.
If you have never read this book, or if it lives on your child's bookshelves, give yourself a treat. It's much more than you think.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Stephen on December 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
(Note: This review gives away some elements of the story. I do not believe that it will spoil it for anybody, but am warning you as you are the best judge of that.)
Many of the reviewers below have said that this is a must read for anybody who loves horses. Goodness knows they're right, but I'm just writing (as one who is only a very mild fan of horses) to say that it is just as much of a must read for anybody who likes people.
This book is about a sensitive 10 year old boy who is misunderstood by his authoritarian, ex-military father, and struggles to live up to the high standard set by his older brother. His continued failures drive him further and further into the dream world that is their cause. He dreams of having a horse of his own to be his friend (his father owns a horse ranch).
The plot really gets interesting when his mother convinces his father to give him a horse, which she believes will teach him responsibility, and -- to his father's dismay -- he chooses one of the wildest, most unmanageable fillies on the ranch. The remainder of the book unfolds what the boy (as well as his father) learns about life, and his developing relationships with both his father and his horse. I will go no farther in revealing the plot.
This book will be appreciated by horse lovers for obvious reasons. I hope I have been able to show a little of why it will also be appreciated by anyone who enjoys good literature with a good plot, or is a student of human nature or of good writing.
Finally, a word on style. While O'Hara's style is not unique to the extent that Barrie's, Tarkington's, or even Joyce's is, it is highly enjoyable, perfectly fitted to the content, and well above average. The book is the kind that is genuinely fun to read, one of those books that you can't put down, and the reading as well as the plot of which will provide a pleasant memory.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on August 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
On the Goose Bar Ranch in Wyoming, between the World Wars, former Army captain Rob McLaughlin and his Eastern blue-blood wife, Nell, are raising two sons and an ever-growing herd of thoroughbred horses. Rob, a stern but loving father, doesn't know what to do with younger son Ken. The boy daydreams constantly, and for that reason just failed to be promoted at his boarding school. Why should Rob give small Ken a colt of his own, as he already has older son Howard, when Ken can't do anything that demonstrates he's responsible enough to be trusted? Yet a colt is what Ken wants more than anything else in the world. Until he finds out what happens to male horses when they're two years old - after which he decides he'd rather have a filly.

Not just any filly, though. Flicka, born to the half-wild mare called Rocket. Flicka is faster already than her sire, the ranch's stud horse Banner, and Ken believes he'll be able to train Rocket's "bad blood" out of the yearling. Rob thinks his son is (to use his word for it) dumb, for a lot of reasons that now include choosing this filly that Rob is sure will turn out to be just as "loco" as her dam. Untrainable, and downright dangerous to those who try to handle her.

This novel is a perfect example of the type of children's classic that, when read by adults, proves to have depths and layers its target audience never perceives. I know I read it as a young girl, and enjoyed it as both a good "horse story" and coming of age tale. But in reading it again now, I was amazed by the detailed and multi-faceted characters of Rob and Nell. Their love story is one of the most interesting I've read, because the author not only captures the tensions between these two very different people - she also captures the way that raising their children, who are (for better or worse!) a blending of those differences, affects their relationship. No wonder this book is still in print more than 60 years after it was first published. Simply wonderful!
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