Mrs Whitlam by Bruce Pascoe
Magabala Books, 2016. ISBN 9781925360240
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Horses. Rescue work. A wonderful heart-warming short novel, Mrs Whitlam has great appeal because of its description of a bond between a girl and a horse, the closeness of family and the courage that one girl can show. Marnie has been given the part Clydesdale horse named Mrs Whitlam, and Marnie's mum has told her she should be proud to have a horse named after 'a wonderful woman'. Mrs Whitlam had belong to a girl who was killed in a car accident and her mother couldn't bear to be reminded so she gave the horse to Marnie.
The story is told in the first person by Marnie in her own entertaining way. She develops a deep bond with the horse, looking after her and using her as a sounding board for her life. When the two are at the beach, Marnie spots a child on the verge of being drowned, and together the pair manage to rescue the baby. When they get him back on the beach a boy from her school, George Costa, helps with the resuscitation and a friendship develops from there.
In Marnie, Pascoe has developed a great heroine and even though she faces teasing about her Aboriginal background, she learns to stand up for herself and continues to look after Mrs Whitlam. The loving bonds found within her family are equally as appealing as the friendship between Marnie and Mrs Whitlam, her mother standing out as a loving and wise woman who is compassionate and helpful.
This is an uplifting short novel that ticked all the boxes for me. Horse lovers are in for a treat and it would be an excellent read aloud in the classroom or a literature circle book.