My Friend Flicka
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|First edition cover|
|Publisher||J. B. Lippincott Company|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
My Friend Flicka is a 1941 novel by Mary O’Hara, about Ken McLaughlin, the son of a Wyoming rancher, and his horse Flicka. It was the first in a trilogy, followed by Thunderhead (1943) and Green Grass of Wyoming (1946). The popular 1943 film version featured young Roddy McDowall and was followed by two other film adaptations, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka (1945), and Green Grass of Wyoming (1948), both based on O’Hara’s novels. A television series followed during 1956-1957, that first aired on CBS, then on NBC, with reruns on ABC and on CBS between 1959 and 1966. The Disney Channel re-ran the program during the mid-1980s, too.
Kenneth McLaughlin is a 10-year-old boy living on Goose Bar Ranch, just out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, with his practical father, Rob; his mother, Nell; and his older brother, Howard. Rob is often unsatisfied with Ken, who daydreams when he should be attending to practical matters; Nell, however, shares her son’s sensitive nature and is more sympathetic. Howard, the older son, who looks and acts more like Rob, was allowed to choose and train a colt from among the Goose Bar herd (thoroughbreds that Rob McLaughlin is raising in the old-fashioned way, on the open range), much to the jealousy of Ken. Although Ken loves horses, Rob doesn’t think his wool-gathering son deserves such a privilege yet.The room on the Remount Ranch outside Cheyenne, Wyoming where Mary O’Hara wrote My Friend Flicka. It was added to the main house by O’Hara and her husband around 1931.
At the beginning of the novel, Ken has angered his father by returning home from boarding school with failing grades and will have to repeat fifth grade, an expense Rob can ill afford. After a few mishaps in his first few days home, Nell convinces Rob to give Ken a colt, saying it will give him something to work towards and improve himself and his sense of responsibility. Ken is unable to decide which yearling he wants until he sees a beautiful sorrel filly running swiftly away from him.
Rob, once again, is annoyed with his son; this particular filly has a strain of mustang blood that makes her very wild – “loco”, in ranch idiom. The mustang blood comes from a wild horse called the Albino, named for his pure white coat. All the Goose Bar horses with this strain have been fast and beautiful, but untameable, and after many years of trying to break just one of them, Rob has decided to get rid of them all. Ken persists, however, and Rob reluctantly agrees to let him have the filly. Rob, Ken, and the ranch hands make two attempts to capture her. During the second attempt, she tries to escape by attempting to jump an impossibly high barbed wire fence and injures herself severely.
Ken spends the rest of the summer