He was named "Sham" for the sun, this golden red stallion born in the Sultan of Morocco's stone stables. Upon his heel was a small white spot, the symbol of speed. But on his chest was the symbol of misfortune.
Although he was as swift as the desert winds, Sham's proud pedigree would be scorned all his life by cruel masters and owners.
This is the classic story of Sham and his friend, the stable boy Agba. Their adventures take them from the sands of the Sahara to the royal courts of France and, finally, to the green pastures and stately homes of England.
For Sham was the renowned "Godolphin Arabian" whose blood flows through the veins of almost every superior Thoroughbred. Sham's speed-like his story-has become legendary.
Marguerite Henry (April 13, 1902-November 26, 1997) was an American writer. The author of fifty-nine books based on true stories of horses and other animals, her work has captivated entire generations of children and young adults and won several Newbery Awards and Honors. Among the more famous of her works was Misty of Chincoteague, which was the basis for the 1961 movie Misty, and several sequel books.
"It is exciting to me that no matter how much machinery replaces the horse, the work it can do is still measured in horsepower ... even in the new age. And although a riding horse often weighs half a ton and a big drafter a full ton, either can be led about by a piece of string if he has been wisely trained. This to me is a constant source of wonder and challenge." This quote was from an article about Henry published in the Washington Post on November 28, 1997, in response to a query about her drive to write about horses.
Marguerite Henry inspired children all over the world with her love of animals, especially horses. Author of over fifty children's stories, including the Misty of Chincoteague series, Henry's love of animals started during her childhood. Unfortunately, Henry was stricken with a rheumatic fever at the age of six, which kept her bedridden until the age of twelve. Born to Louis and Anna Breithaupt, the youngest of the five children, Henry was a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Because of her illness, Henry wasn't allowed to go to school with other children because of her weak state and the fear of spreading the illness to others. While she was confined indoors, she discovered the joy of reading. Soon afterwards, she also discovered a love for writing when her father, a publisher, presented her with a writing desk for Christmas. On the top of stacks of colored paper her father wrote, “Dear Last of the Mohicans: Not a penny for your thoughts, but a tablet. Merry Christmas! Pappa Louis XXXX.”
Henry's first published work came at the age of eleven, a short story about a collie and a group of children, which she sold to a magazine for $12. Henry always wrote about animals, such as dogs, cats, birds, foxes, and even mules, but chiefly her stories focused on horses.
In 1923, she married Sidney Crocker Henry. During their sixty-four years of marriage they didn't have children, but instead had many pets that inspired some of Marguerite’s stories. They lived in Wayne, Illinois.
In 1947, she published Misty of Chincoteague and it was an instant success. Later, this book—as well as Justin Morgan had a Horse and Brighty of the Grand Canyon—were made into movies.
She finished her last book, Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley, just before her death on November 26, 1997 at the age of 95.
My daughter is 7 and loves horses. And so it is no surprise that this short book by Marguerite Henry about the Godolphin Arabian was one of her favorites. A fairy tale full of surprises and suspense, the story of Agba and Sham was a nice read. There is a more than a tinge of Orientalism unfortunately, but still it does not distract from the beauty of the prose and the splendid illustrations. A classic!
While I absolutely adored Marguerite Henry's Newbery Award winning King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian as a child, as an older adult, I can definitely understand why and how King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian might not be all that engaging and interesting for a young reader who is neither a horse enthusiast nor all that much into historical fiction as a genre (especially since the two main protagonists, especially since both Sham and Agba his young caretaker never actually speak, Sham of course because he is a horse and Agba because he is a mute, because he is in fact physically unable to speak, to utter words).
Now as a child reader, when I first read King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian (at around the age of eleven, I believe), it naturally and of course was for the most part the life story of Sham and how he becomes the Godolphin Arabian (and along with the Byerley Turk and the Darley Arabian one of the three main founding stallions of the Thoroughbred breed) what I enjoyed most and which totally and utterly captured my imagination, the evocative and often exciting tale of Agba and his horse, their many adventures, their trials and tribulations until finally, the Earl of Godolphin realises the worth, the breeding, the stamina and beauty of Sham and how both Sham and Agba are then finally granted the recognition and honour they both so richly have always deserved and merited (including Sham being given the earl's own name, being now officially known and registered as the Godolphin Arabian).
But as an older adult (and albeit that I still do adore Sham and Agba's tale as a story in and of itself), it is actually more Marguerite Henry's sense and feel for history and how (in my eyes realistically and with wonderful but never overly extensive and intensive amount of detail) she has brought not only early 18th century England and France but also Morocco so engagingly and wonderfully to life that has made King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian still very much special after all these years (and yes, also the author's general approach towards Agba, who although he is Moroccan, Muslim and does not have the power of speech, is always first and foremost depicted and shown by Marguerite Henry as simply and beautifully a young and eager horse-boy who loves and cherishes his charge, who absolutely adores Shem and will indeed do everything for him).
Four stars for King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian (and yes, I indeed do very much hope that in particular the depictions the author presents of 18th century Morocco, but especially that the Sultan mandates that even his horses, including Sham's heavily pregnant with him mother must be made to obey the Ramadan fasting are based on reality, that they do in fact reflect the historic truth as much as possible, for if this were untrue, if the beginning of King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian with the Sultan of Morocco mandating that his horses also fast for Ramadan were in fact a case of Marguerite Henry using wholly or even mostly her authorial license, I for one would consider this more than a wee bit problematic, considering how absolutely angry and furious this particular scenario does make me, as I really do not want to condemn the historic Sultan of Morocco for a something that in fact never actually occurred).
Few authors bring more sympathy and enlightenment to the story of a horse than Marguerite Henry, and King of the Wind happens to be one of her best such books, if not her magnum opus.
The story of the closeness between the Godolphin Arabian and his young, loyal master has an emotional stickiness that isn't topped by much else in literature. Though the historicity of the story is fascinating, I think it's the tenderness of relationship that earned King of the Wind the Newbery Medal.
Marguerite Henry has a sweet, understated writing style. Somehow, though the story is in no way predictable, the reader feels everything will turn out right. I haven't read every contender for the 1949 Newbery Medal, but I wouldn't be surprised if King of the Wind were the best in its class.
It seems like all the "classic" books about horses follow the same mold; the horse is born, grows up, learns how to handle humans, goes through a casting out period where they are treated horribly and become separated from the people they love, then somewhere toward the end they find their family or human again and all is restored in the world. This book fits right in with that category, so why do we all love it so deeply?
The story of Sham is the story of hope, of struggle through hardship and the return to grace. It is also the story of the strength in friendship. But more than all of this, it is the story of a great horse who was made great not by his deeds, but by the deeds of his children. King of the Wind captures the essence of Sham's greatness, showing it to the readers in a way that his actions were never allowed to do, all while describing the experiences in the most beautiful and heart-touching detail. Horse lovers and fans of racing will find that this book is so all-encompassing that they simply can not put it down, because after a while you realize you don't see the words on the page, you see the image of the experience in your mind.
Easy to see why this was a Newbery winner and is still a must read.
It's told by a mute boy. No joke. It's amazing because it's about a horse and his boy who is mute, and stays mute through the whole story. Probably my favorite thing about this book is that one of the main characters tells you all about what happened to him and his his horse without saying a thing.
I read this book in my preteen era. I checked it out from the library during summer holidays at my ancestral home: but I could not read it because I caught an eye infection. I left for school with the tragedy of an unread book burning in my heart. So imagine my delight when, next year when I came back for the vacation, I found the book still there - my aunt had forgotten to return it! The library must have written it off as "lost".
The story of the Godolphin Arabian, blessed with unbelievable speed and cursed with ill-luck at the same time, is somehow twined with the story of this particular library copy of the book in my mind. It waited one year patiently, covered with dust and forgotten, to be read and treasured by me when I returned - rather like the protagonist of the story who had a largely tragic life but went on to gain immortality, in the famous breed he fathered.
Before I get much farther into this review, I should probably say that I've never been a "horse book" kind of reader. So if you love Black Beauty and National Velvet and The Black Stallion, you may well like King of the Wind more than I did. A lot of the rest of this Goodreads page is full of people who swear by it, largely based on its excellent descriptions of horses and horse behavior.
I can't argue with that -- Henry clearly knew her horses -- but I still wasn't all that sold on King of the Wind. It's more or less based on the story of the Godolphin Arabian, a famous horse whose descendants were some of the finest racehorses of all time (including Man o'War, as the oddly disjunct introduction mentions), but it's so heavily romanticized and embellished as to remove any veneer of realism. We follow the Arabian -- known for most of the book as Sham -- from his initial home in the stables of the Sultan of Morocco, to the Royal Court of France, into disgrace as a cart-horse, and finally into triumph as the greatest sire of racehorses in all England. This whole plot relies heavily on chance coincidences, theatrical gestures, and soap-opera dialogue, and I didn't find it believable in the slightest.
Maybe that's just my resistance to the genre. After all, I've made no secret of my intense dislike of Smoky, the Cowhorse, and the arc of that book's plot, if not any of the specifics, isn't all that far off from King of the Wind. More troubling, though, is the book's lack of characterization. The Arabian is cared for and followed during the whole story by a mute boy named Agba, whose character exhibits almost no development through the novel, and who seems to exist in the story largely because Henry was unable or unwilling to follow the Will James model and have everything take place in the horse's point of view. (As far as I can tell, Agba seems to be entirely a product of Henry's imagination, as opposed to a real person that she worked into the story.)
So, no points for plot or development of characters from me, though Henry's prose is crisp, and the settings (the 1940's ideas about historical Morocco and Islam aside) are well developed. That said, although the 1948 publishing year was a pretty good one for picture books (Blueberries for Sal, Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, The Big Snow), it was a weak one for older readers -- maybe the weakest of the decade -- and so I wouldn't characterize King of the Wind as a mistake winner, or anything like that. As I've said before, all publishing years aren't created equal, and King of the Wind was probably as good a choice as anything else. But -- those kids who are really into horses aside -- I think it's a very minor entry in the Newbery canon.
A longer version of this review appeared on For Those About To Mock (abouttomock.blogspot.com)
I read this book as a kid, but that was a long time ago. Then my brother moved to Cambridge and I went to visit him, and while I was there I took the bus up Babraham Road ("If she was president and she was also a road, she'd be Babraham Lincoln Road") to Wandlebury Hill Fort https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandleb... and tootled around the park and into the area protected by the fort and the Godolphin stables are there, just hanging out like a historical thing stacked on top of another historical thing (and there's also a Roman Road a quarter mile away, for that real "continuously occupied settlement feeling"). Why wasn't the Earl of Godolphin in my pamphlet about the ring fort? Is Marguerite Henry not popular in Britain? I have no idea. But reading this again was good. The beginning seemed problematically Orientalist, but once we got to France, it turned out that all adults in this book are terrible people (except the prosperous ones), although the sultan's stables seemed more vivid than the streets of France, possibly because in Arabia, the desert sun is blazing down on and lighting everything, and in France, things are overcast and wintry. After many quite harrowing trials, Sham and Agba come to the Earl of Godolphin's estates, where I was a tourist. I have stood on top of Magog Down and thought, "They should call it Magog Up." I have eaten at the farm store. King of the Wind holds up to a long walk in Godolphin country. Great story as well.
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I'm aware that the vast majority of it is made up, but the way Henry weaves the story makes it believable anyway. You want Sham and Agba to be together again, even if Agba wasn't real at all.
One of the criticized portions of the story, the cat Grimalkin, actually was real, if not in quite the way he appeared in this book, by the way.
Henry tells an entertaining, compelling tale which has endeared the Godolphin Arabian, one of three tail-male foundation sires of the Thoroughbred, to people in a way the Darley Arabian and the Byerly Turk haven't at all achieved. And as Gandalf says in the movie, aren't all great stories worthy of a little embellishment? I think so, and this story becomes richer and sweeter for it. Even as an adult I find it extremely entertaining. Your horse-crazy child will love and cherish this book their whole lives, and you just might, too.
This fictionalized story is based on fact. The Godolphin Arabian is the ancestor of the finest thoroughbred horses. The story tells about a swift and spirited Arabian horse named "Sham" who is sent by the Sultan of Morocco as a gift to Louis XV of France. Sham eventually sires a colt which is the beginning of the Goldolphin Arabian breed.
Although this is a book for young readers, it's an interesting, touching, well-told tale which appeals to older readers as well. A customer review at Amazon says: ================================ "Marguerite Henry's fictionalized biography of the Goldolphin Arabian, one of the three founding thoroughbred sires, follows the horse Sham and his mute groom Agba from the stables of the Sultan of Morocco through hardship in France and England to celebrated triumph at stud. ... Agba, who never speaks a word, is one of the most absorbing characters in children's fiction. ... it's a must for horse lovers." ================================
ADDENDUM - 3/22/16 I just discovered that there is a film adaptation of this book, King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian. FILM: "King of the Wind" (1990) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097668/?... ============================== TWO SUMMARIES FROM ABOVE-LINKED IMDb page: "In 1727, an Arab colt is born with the signs of the wheat ear and the white spot on his heel: evil and good. And thus begins the life of Sham. He is a gift to the King of France, through a series of adventures with his faithful stable boy, Agba, he becomes the Godolphin Arabian, the founder of one of the greatest thoroughbred racing lines of all time."
"Based on author Marguerite Henry's popular children's novel, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1949, King of the Wind is a fictionalized account of the emergence of Sham, the renowned Godolphin Arabian who fathered a long line of outstanding race horses. The ancestries of Man o' War and Seabiscuit can be traced back to the Godolphin Arabian." =============================== Our public library has the DVD! Good news all around!
I was happy to become reacquainted with Marguerite Henry in this early-ish Newbery winner. Google sources gave me a new appreciation of her from learning about her childhood illness that made her bedridden for six years, to a tribute from her publisher in a commemorative edition of the book. Henry's charm and kindness were noteworthy; plus, what an example of well-lived years: Henry published her last book shortly before she died at 95!
I also enjoyed the history in King of the Wind, as well as the bittersweet devotion of Agba to "his" horse. Had to skim over the suffering of Sham, however; reading about man's inhumanity to animals is almost as difficult as reading about our mistreatment of each other. I will always like stories with happy endings, and was glad to know this one during Sham's difficult years!
Agba is a Moroccan slave boy who works with horses. And falls in love with a small colt bearing the marks of both greatness and danger. The boy names the horse Sham and together they race like the wind. When the Sultan of Morocco selects Sham as one of the six perfect horses to send to the king of France (ordering Agba to go with him), the boy believes the horse’s destiny is about to unfold.
But will Sham’s destiny be that of greatness?
Or will the mark of danger dominate both of their lives?
A fictional tale of the Godolphin Arabian. I read Marguerite Henry’s Misty books when I was about ten, followed by almost all of Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series (one of my FAVORITES). But somehow it’s taken forever for me to actually tackle King of the Wind. Didn’t take forever to read though. I just might have to blitz through the rest of Henry’s horse books for good measure.
King of the Wind is the perfect example of how to fictionalize a true story. None of the elements added to the story took away from the story itself, they simply added its heart and soul. Reading this story, both as a child and an adult, I can place myself in Agba's shoes [or bare feet] and walk those thousands of miles with him and Sham through time. King of the Wind is my favorite horse story, and honestly favorite book, of all time. Henry impresses upon the reader all the beauty and majesty of this horse who holds such a special place in the history of Thoroughbreds.
Great trip down memory lane for me--Marguerite Henry was one of my very, very favorite authors as a horse-obsessed kid. I will have to read Misty of Chincoteague soon, even though it's not a Newbery Book (just an honor book...still very worth of my 2353rd read in my life).
I liked the historical fiction aspect of the novel, loved the story of the first Arabian to arrive in Europe and strengthen the bloodlines of the horses there, and the story of Agba, the little mute horseboy, and his devotion to Sham, the Arabian stallion, is really touching.
This was an enjoyable read, by quintessential horse book author Marguerite Henry. I enjoyed learning the hard luck, riches to rags to riches story (even fictionalized as it was) of the Godolphin Arabian, one of the founding sires of the Thoroughbred horse breed.
The book also tells the story of Agba, a faithful human that follows the horse he calls "Sham", through his entire life. I'm not sure how much of Agba's story is true, or if Agba even ever existed, but I would like to think that he did.
I have to admit--I wasn't too excited about this one when I saw it was another horse story, but it was actually an enjoyable little read. Definitely not something I would normally pick up and read, but a lot of these early Newbery winners have been that way.
This is really just a cute story about a boy and his horse--they travel far and wide, experience tragedy and triumph, and are separated at times--but they always find their way back to each other.
The foal was to be born under a favorable sign—a new moon in a new month—and thus assured strength and speed. While the horseboy, Agba, was asleep, the foal was born and it appeared that indeed Agba’s master was correct for on the foal’s hind heel was a white spot, an emblem of swiftness. Unfortunately, the foal also bore the wheat ear and this foretold of evil. Agba knew this foal was special and he named it Sham, the Arabic word for sun, because its coat was a flaming red-gold. Although orphaned and shunned by the other spring colts, Sham thrived under Agba’s watchful care until one day, one ill-placed foot and one well-placed hoof would forever change their destinies.
Marguerite Henry gives young readers a story detailing the origin of the Godolphin Arabian, one of three stallions that founded the modern Thoroughbred (Darley Arabian and the Byerley Turk being the other two). Part fact and part fiction, this book follows Sham from Morocco to Paris and then finally to London. His life passes through the hands of a sultan, king, carter, Quaker, innkeeper, and earl all the while keeping company with a loyal and mute horseboy and a tomcat named Grimalkin. As "King of the Wind" is based on historical fact, our story takes place in the early 18th century and Henry stays true to the time period by portraying a harsh but realistic view of how life was for little Agba and Sham. Younger readers, especially those fond of horses, may be uncomfortable reading of Sham’s harsh and unfair treatment, but Henry chooses realism over sentimentality so readers can glean an accurate understanding of Agba and Sham’s daily struggle for survival.
Early in Sham’s life, Agba makes him a promise: “My name is Agba. Ba means “father”. I will be a father to you, Sham, and when I am grown I will ride you before the multitudes. And they will bow before you, and you will be King of the Wind. I promise it.” Henry gives us a beautiful adventure story that brims with friendship, honor, and loyalty and reminds us that any promise worth making is a promise certainly worth keeping.
I was very wary to read this one. I'm not a huge horse lover. In many of the books that I read, these horse loving girls were just devouring books by Marguerite Henry and dreaming about owning their own horses. I knew that I would never have this dream so I didn't read anything by her.
But I was pleasantly surprised. This is the story of a boy who loves a horse. He respects all horses, but he really loves this one horse. Which is how I feel about certain people. They start in Morocco and the Sultan gifts the horse and the stable boy to the King of France. But the King of France doesn't want the horse. And thus starts the adventures of Sham (he's the horse).
I felt a little deja vu as when I was little my father made me read "The Black Stallion". That horse also had to go through some good owners and some bad ones. But this one, Sham, had his faithful stable boy Agaba who was by his side as much as possible. They got separated a few times, but they always managed to find each other.
I really enjoyed it. There was no dramatic win or realization of the people that they had underestimated the horse. But you know that the horse and boy had a good life together and that everything changed for the better.
Sometimes I return to a book from my childhood to find it has diminished with time. But sometimes, like with this book, I return to find the book different, yes, but equally good. I was a horse-crazy kid, and so I loved all the horsey details in this book when I was young. Now, while I still appreciate those details, I'm even more enamored with Marguerite Henry's gift for bringing scenes to life on the page. Whether things were unfolding at the Moroccan stables, or the court at Versailles, or the racetrack at Newmarket, the descriptions drew me in every time. 4.5 out of 5 stars, rounded up for making me choke up at the end.
This book is just as amazing as I remember it. I must have read King of the Wind a million times when I was a kid.
I bought the Marguerite Henry box set for my kids, but they didn't seem too interested in it. So I decided to read this book to them. I'm always a little nervous when I read one of my childhood favorites for fear that it won't be as good as I remember. But I'm happy to say that King of the Wind was just as good, if not better than I expected.
So much passion is packed into this little book! The mute slave boy charged with caring for his horse for the entirety of the animal's life. And what a life it was. From the stables of the Sultan to the lowly streets of France to being an utter outcast, and finally, rising to fame and glory in the stables of an English Earl. It's a Cinderella story that horse lovers have adored for almost 30 years.
I actually cried at the end. I'm a sap, so I'm blaming it mostly on that, but the truth is, this is one incredible book. Marguerite Henry sure knew how to tell a story.
Content: Some abuse/neglect of animals. Movie rating would be PG.
This classic was a true horse-lovers adventure. The story begins in the royal Arabian household with one of the finest fillies in the kingdom foaling a young colt. From the onset of its life, the beautiful colt has many signs declaring a life of contradictions; greatness and difficulties that prove to be true. It is born during a full moon during Ramadan and has two markings on its sleek coat that signify luck and hardship. Like the stories of the Arabian Nights, this story is full of superstition, good and evil, and harrowing adventures.
The young horse is immediately placed into the earnest care of a young, lithe, diligent boy who happens to be mute. That this young boy, carries the entire adventurous story without saying a word says much to the descriptive story telling of the author. The boys fondness and attachment to the horse carries with them as they are set as an embassage to the King of France along with a dozen other top Arabian horses and their stall boys. This story is ultimately about kindness, destiny and talent winning against all odds.
"King of the wind" was incredibly well written. I love the adventure with deep friendships of man, horse, and cat. I also appreciate the deep, contrasting stories that show the abject misery of the poor contrasted with glittering wealth.