A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Horse Called Hero has it all. There's heartbreaking loss (of a beloved pet), danger, and excitement. There's also love, joy, and beauty not only in the lives of the characters but in the writing itself. The young children are separated from their father by World War II, but they correspond with him. There's no gore, although a dead animal is described briefly. The few incidents of violence are from accidents, not between people. Characters are sometimes in great danger, and painful injuries are described briefly a few times. Positive messages abound as the brother and sister protagonists learn through raising a horse how to be good and brave, which will inspire readers of all ages to be the same.
What's the story?
When Germany starts bombing London during World War II, 8-year-old Wolfie and his older sister, Dorothy (Dodo), are sent to the countryside where they'll be safely away from the bombs. Eventually Wolfie and Dodo settle with Hettie Lamb and her father in the southeastern part of England, where Wolfie finds and rescues a little colt. Together he and Hero learn from each other as they grow up. As the war goes on, horses become more and more valuable. Eventually Hero is stolen, and Wolfe and Dodo are devastated. Near the end of the war, Wolfie learns that Hero might be working down the nearby mine. Despite the dangers, Wolfie determines to go into the mine himself and, if Hero's there, bring him out at all costs.
Is it any good?
A HORSE CALLED HERO is a gorgeous, epic tale. The poetic language takes the reader through every emotion, from excitement and joy to fear and heartbreak. There's exciting action and danger, gut-wrenching loss, joy, and triumph -- all handled with a deft, expert touch that never becomes overwrought.
Wolfie and Dodo are a compelling brother-and-sister team. The narration weaves seamlessly between their points of view, and readers will admire the way they cope with everything life throws their way. Not only for horse lovers or World War II buffs, this beautiful story has an unflinching emotional range that brings a unique time and place in history to life. It's sure to become a beloved favorite of everyone lucky enough to read it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how war separates people from their loved ones. How do Dodo and Wolfie cope with missing their father? How would you cope, or how did you, if you were separated from someone you loved?
Did you read the author's note at the end? Were you surprised to learn that some parts of the story were based on things that really happened? What surprised you the most?
Do you have a pet? How do you take care of it? Is it a lot of work? How does Wolfie take care of Hero?
- Author: Sam Angus
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, History, Horses and Farm Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: July 1, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love history and horses
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.