Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The Rocking Horse Secret (1977)
The Rocking Horse Secret
Rumer Godden, il. Juliet Stanwell Smith
There still was horses here then," Jed went on, his brown eyes shining. "Blackberry, only a big old cob, he was, but she had Flamingo, her hunter. See m'hat," said Jed, "and this feather?" - only he said "fevver" - "Went all the way to the London zoo for that, I did, and worn it ever since for Flamingo."
Pomeroy Place no longer has horses, unless you count the rocking horse in the long-deserted nursery. The estate has fallen into decay, old Miss Pomeroy withdrawn and not quite right in her mind, the outdoor work handled by the young man Jed and the indoor by Tibby's mother, now a live-in housemaid. Tibby herself is a study small child, fascinated by her new home and particularly by the rocking horse.
He was black, instead of dapple-grey as are most rocking horses, which made him look more real. His mane and tail were black, too, and silky, and he had a red saddle, a red bridle with reins.
Tibby feels sorry for all the abandoned toys and longs to ride Noble, even dreaming of it. And slowly, she realizes that someone is riding him. The old lady herself, terrifying and regal, is visting her old friend in the nursery and one day comes face to face with Tibby. The reprecussions of that chance meeting will disrupt quite a few plans, and give Tibby and her mother a real home once and for all.
About the author
Rumer Godden (1907-1998) was born in England but grew up in India and spent much of her life traveling. A prolific writer, she wrote novels, children's books, nonfiction, and poetry. A common theme in the children's books were dolls and toys - The Doll's House, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, and Little Plum are a few of these books. Religion, specifically Catholicism, was another common them - Black Narcissus, In This House of Brede, and Five For Sorrow, Ten For Joy are three of them. Many of her books were made into movies; her 1946 novel The River became a Jean Renoir film in 1948.
Several of her books involved horses, including: The Dark Horse (1981), about an English racehorse in India and his English groom; The Diddakoi (1972), about a Gypsy girl whose adjustment to non-Gypsy life includes her beloved horse; and Mr. McFadden's Hallowe'en (1975), about a little girl and her pony.
Rumer Godden website
1977 Scholastic paperback; cover by Veronika Hart