Sophie in the Saddle (by Dick King-Smith)

I've enjoyed Dick King-Smith's writing ever since I first discovered him when my sons were younger. So I'm delighted to have the opportunity to re-visit some of his books to read aloud to a current six-year-old friend.

I finished the omnibus 'Sophie's Adventures' a few weeks ago, and was immediately asked if I would continue with the next in the series, 'Sophie in the Saddle'. I was happy to oblige, and we finished it today.

Sophie is a small but determined girl - age six in this story - who wants to be a farmer when she grows up. In this book, Sophie's family acquire and name a dog, Sophie learns to swim, and the family go on holiday to Cornwall. Sophie is very excited to be staying on a farm, and has the opportunity to start learning to ride.

These books are intended for children of about five to ten, either as read-alouds, or for reasonably confident readers to read on their own. I happen to think they work better as read-alouds, as there is humour in the book which can be appreciated by adults - it's not all childish. We can probably all recognise a bit of Sophie in children we have known, as she's a realistic, stubborn and outspoken girl with great purpose in life, even at such a young age.

The stories are gentle, the chapters short, and the characterisation excellent. Definitely recommended for any child of about five and over. The book stands alone but is more fun when read after the earlier books in the series.

Not currently in print as a stand-alone, although it can often be found second-hand. There's an omnibus edition (Sophie's Further Adventures) which contains this and the two subsequent books in the series.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 27th September 2011

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