Author: Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator: Michael Forman
Age: 8+ years
Publisher: Mammoth, $16.95
I was dragged along the lanes tied on a short rope to the tailboard of a farm cart so that every twist and turn wrenched at my neck.
By the time we reached the farm lane and rumbled over the bridge into the stable yard that was to become my home, I was soaked with exhaustion and the halter had rubbed my face raw.
My one consolation as I was hauled into the stables that first evening was the knowledge that I was not alone.
The old horse that had been pulling the cart all the way back from market was led into the stable next to mine.
As she went in she stopped to look over my door and nickered gently. I was about to venture away from the back of my stable when my owner brought his crop down on her side with such a vicious blow that I recoiled once again and huddled into the corner against the wall.
"Get in there you old ratbag," he bellowed. "Proper nuisance you are Zoey, and I don't want you teaching this young 'un your old tricks."
But in that short moment I had caught a glimpse of kindness and sympathy from that old mare that cooled my panic and soothed my spirit.