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Summary: No matter how hard he tries, 12-year-old Ken McLaughlan cannot meet his father’s expectations. Ken’s family operates a cattle ranch in Laramie, Wyoming. To successfully operate a ranch requires time, effort, knowledge, stamina, and ability to meet unexpected challenges. Ken wanted to show his Dad that he was up to the challenge but every time he tried, it back-fired on him. Ken’s luck began to change when he was given a rambunctious colt he named “Flicka”. This is a new edition of the book that was first published in 1940.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, independent reading, middle grade reader, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 8 to 12; read yourself: 10 and up
Young Reader Reaction: My Friend Flicka is a wonderful fiction novel aimed at junior high students. It is an easy and enjoyable read, but oriented very strongly towards horse lovers. In the context of the novel, there are references to horses and the technicalities of ranch life on every page. As a reader who has a great interest in this subject, these characteristics made the book even more enjoyable to me. I would throw caution to those who aren’t as passionate, though. Aside from the focus of horses, the overall presentation of My Friend Flicka is very appealing. The characters are very relatable and O’Hara gives them all such strong, true feelings a reader can’t help but feel for. The plotline is engaging and compelling, always teasing readers into finishing the page, chapter, or even the entire book before putting it down. The final message readers take out of this story is strong and loving. I enjoyed this book much more than I anticipated. This is definitely a story I would suggest to animal lovers.
Adult Reader Reaction: This novel is timeless. It was first published in 1940. The author is a master storyteller whose understanding and empathy for children trying to navigate their way through the trouble-some experience of adolescence, is masterful.
Pros: Open the cover and enjoy a “coming-of-age” story you’ll not soon forget.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is an excellent story. It is informative, and enjoyable novel, this is the book for you.
Educational Themes: Adolescence is a confusing process through which everyone passes on their way to becoming an adult. It affects children differently. Following Ken McLaughlan around as he tries to please his father demonstrates just how painful the process can be. This is an excellent and heart-warming story that can be an invaluable resource for children and adults.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 5.8
Literary Categories: Fiction - animal stories
Date(s) Reviewed: February 2009, February 2010
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