For this year’s A to Z Blog challenge, I thought I’d draw back the curtain and explore the life and times of a bibliophile. Care to join me?
If there was one recurring subject of the early years of my reading career, it would definitely have to be horses. If there was a horse on the cover, it was a guarantee I would at least pick it up. But Heaven help the writer who didn’t know her stuff when it came to all things equine.
Enter Marguerite Henry and King of the Wind. By the time I had encountered King of the Wind, I already knew the history of the English Thoroughbred, but beyond the names, I knew nothing of the three founding sires themselves. A chance to learn something, even if a fictional account, of the Godolphin Arabian was something I wasn’t about to pass up.
The story Marguerite Henry weaves of a horse both blessed beyond measure and cursed, a horse dismissed, unvalued, lost, found, redeemed, and finally, celebrated is every bit as dramatic as any novel centered on a human protagonist. The devotion of Sham’s caretaker, Agba, and unexpected kindness from people who owed them nothing, but still decided to be decent and kind – there was much a seven year-old girl could learn from this story.
This was my first exposure to a culture very different from the one I called mine. I had a hard time finding Morocco on the map. I knew nothing of Islam or of Muslims before reading King of the Wind. Marguerite Henry did not set out to write an exploration of either, but I accepted the call to prayer and the discipline of the Ramadan fast as easily as I accepted the tolling of Sunday morning Church bells or Lenten sacrifices.
It really is true: Art teaches us empathy. It teaches us we’re not so very different one from another. Art, particularly when it comes in the form of the written word, can transport us to a different time, a different place, and a different culture. And we never have to leave the house.