by Astrid Lindgren, published 1983
“They saw hundreds of horses charging through the forest until the ground rang under their hooves…They’re not frightened- they’re just running winter out of their bodies.”
This magical children’s book is like stepping into an ancient fairytale, from who knows where, and who knows when. It has an eternal quality about it. At times, it feels like a Norse myth, at other times it feels like a Robin Hood cycle. In any case, it is heroic without being overwhelming. It is perfect for 4th to 6th grade readers. Adventure, friendship, humor, and good lessons about living are in every piece of action.
I couldn’t put this book down, and it entered my dreams at night, as I wondered what was going to happen next. I particularly loved the idea that during the summer, the two main children characters lived in the woods on their own, walking out of the ridiculous feuding that was happening among the adults. Sometimes you just have to take a stand for a better life, no matter what age.
A superb and unusual children’s book, it’s hard to pin the age range down. While I prefer it for 10 and up, it is possible it would work well as a read-aloud for younger children. Some of you may know the author from her other work, Pippi Longstocking, which alas, did not appeal to me as much as this adventure story does.