Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat was published in 1957, as was Little Bear by Else Homlelund Minarik. These two are the classic easy readers, published by Random House and Harper and Row, respectively. In the late 50’s and in the 1960’s and 70’s, books for beginning readers became trendy. Lots of libraries separated the easy readers from the picture books so that beginning readers could easily find the books they could read all by themselves.
Robert the Rose Horse is another one of those old classic beginning readers, published in 1962, back when easy readers were just becoming popular with publishers and in libraries. The book tells the story of Robert, a horse who leaves his country home because he is allergic to roses. Although Robert’s allergy is the central driving plot element of the story, the words “allergy” and “allergic” are never used, of course. Robert sneezes, and the story progresses. Robert is a sort of funny, anthropomorphized, horse, too. He carries a suitcase and walks on his hind legs, except when he’s working as a cart horse. Then he needs all four feet on the ground. And he never talks to the people in the story, but he seems to be able to communicate with them quite well.
None of these oddities detracts from the delightful story of Robert, an ordinary horse with a mild disability (his allergy) who overcomes his problems with perseverance and courage. Robert the Rose Horse is one of my favorite characters. His story is not only fun for young beginning readers; it’s also fun to read aloud with preschoolers. I like making Robert’s sneezes, and my urchins enjoy reading about the bank robbery that turns Robert into a hero.
Picture Book Preschool is a preschool/kindergarten curriculum which consists of a list of picture books to read aloud for each week of the year and a character trait, a memory verse, and activities, all tied to the theme for the week. Click on the link in the sidebar if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the preschool curriculum, Picture Book Preschool by Sherry Early.