Title: Brown Sunshine of Sawdust ValleyBrown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley
Author: Marguerite Henry
Illustrator: Bonnie Shields
Pages: 100
Recommended Ages: 7-10
Star Rating: ★★★★★

From the author of Justin Morgan Had a Horse and King of the Wind comes this charming story of a young girl, her mare, and the mare’s colt.

The Story.

Molly has wanted a horse for as long as she could remember. It hurts her whenever she sees other children riding around on horses, large as life, but she knows better than to pester her parents about it – they have a hard enough time “making ends meet” as it is, and she knows they want her to be happy.

But then for her tenth birthday, Molly’s father announces that they are going to buy a horse! Molly is ecstatic – she knows they don’t have the money to buy a superior colt, but she still hopes they can purchase a pretty little thing! And then the auction starts, and for every beautiful little colt, the bid goes up higher than the seventy dollars Molly’s father can spend. Every horse except the last one – a run down mare. Molly is embarrassed when her father purchases the horse, “Lady Sue” – she isn’t anything like the sleek young colt Molly’s always imagined.

Can Molly reconcile herself to Lady Sue, and learn to delight in her?


The answer is – of course! Once Molly’s father gets Lady Sue home and spruces her up, she turns out to be a wonderful horse. Molly comes to be very fond of her, even before they discover Lady Sue’s secret.

The secret arrives one day in the form of Brown Sunshine – a baby mule! Molly instantly falls in love with the little mule and it isn’t long before he redeems the name of “mule” to all of the children who wanted to pick at his ignoble ancestry.

The best part for me, though, was yet to come. Molly, a resident of Tennessee, begins to research the Mule Day that occurs in Columbia, Tennessee every year and by the end of the book, both she and Brown Sunshine have participated in the procession! Now, I go to Columbia just about every week, and although we were unable to attend, a friend actually invited us to Mule Day this last year! It’s really funny having points of “Tennessee pride” show up in books. ;)

Molly and her parents have great relationships, and they all work together to make first Lady Sue, then Brown Sunshine a success.

Also, in the first chapter, Molly mentions that she reads lots of horse stories “even though they’re mostly about horse-sick kids who always get a horse at the end of the story.” [pg. 3] Which is what I always say about horse stories…

Conclusion. Like I’ve said before, Marguerite Henry’s ‘horse stories’ stand head and shoulders above any other books in the genre.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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