My Friend Flicka

( 26 )


The classic story of an aimless teenager, a demanding father,
and aspirited horse -- now a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox

A daydreamer and a time waster, young Ken McLaughlin spends his days on his family's Wyoming ranch with his head in the clouds, surrounded by endless blue skies, wide-open spaces, and beautiful horses. To his brusque, practical father, the boy is an enigma and a disappointment. Then one day, Ken's life is ...

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The classic story of an aimless teenager, a demanding father,
and aspirited horse -- now a major motion picture from Twentieth Century Fox

A daydreamer and a time waster, young Ken McLaughlin spends his days on his family's Wyoming ranch with his head in the clouds, surrounded by endless blue skies, wide-open spaces, and beautiful horses. To his brusque, practical father, the boy is an enigma and a disappointment. Then one day, Ken's life is filled with new purpose when he finds Flicka, a magnificent filly as wild as she is fast. Though the strong bond between boy and horse only fuels his father's disdain, Ken's growing love for his friend Flicka is changing him -- leading a once-aimless young man down the path to responsible adulthood, forging a new respect and understanding between father and son, and inspiring a fierce loyalty that nearly costs Ken his life.

Through his intense devotion to the colt Flicka, a young boy, living on a Wyoming ranch, begins to learn about responsibility and gain a better understanding of his brusque father.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060512620
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/27/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 297,382
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary O’Hara was born on July 10, 1885, in Cape May Point, New Jersey. She was a screenwriter during the silent film era and wrote several novels, including the range country trilogy My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and Green Grass of Wyoming. She also authored a novella, The Catch Colt, and Wyoming Summer, based on her diary of sixteen years. She died on October 14, 1980.

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Read an Excerpt

My Friend Flicka

By Mary O'Hara

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Mary O'Hara

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060512628

Chapter One

High up on the long hill they called the Saddle Back, behind the ranch and the county road, the boy sat his horse, facing east, his eyes dazzled by the rising sun.

It seemed like a personage come to visit; appearing all of a sudden over the dark bank of clouds in the east, coming up over the edge of it smiling; bowing right and left; lighting up the whole world so that everything smiled back.

The snug, huddled roofs of the ranch house, way below him, began to be red instead of just dark; and the spidery arms of the windmill in the Gorge glinted and twinkled. They were smiling back at the sun.

"Good morning, mister!" shouted Ken, swinging his arm in salute; and the chunky brown mare he rode gave a wild leap.

To keep his seat, riding bareback as he was, he clapped his heels into her sides, and she leaped again, this time with her head down. Stiff-legged and with arched back she landed; and then bucked.

Once, twice, three times; and Ken was off, slung under her nose, hanging on to the reins.

She backed away and pulled to get free, braced like a dog tugging at a man's trouser leg.

"No you don't!" gasped Ken, sitting up to face her and clinging to the reins. "Not that time you didn't--"

She jerked her head viciously from side to side. Ken's teeth set in anger. "If you break another bridle--"

This thought made him crafty and hisvoice fell to a coaxing note. "Now Cigarette--be a good girl--thatsa baby--good girl--."

Responsive to the change of tone, one of her flattened ears came forward as if to peer at him and see if he spoke in good faith. Reassured, she stopped pulling and moved up a step.

Ken got warily to his feet and went to her head, still talking soothingly but with insulting words.

"Thatsa girl--stupid face--whoa, baby--jughead--no sense at all--" and this last was the worst possible insult on the Goose Bar Ranch where a horse without sense was a horse without a right to existence.

Cigarette was not wholly deceived but stood enjoying the stroking of Ken's hand and awaiting developments.

"D'you think I'd ever ride a ornery old plug like you if I had a horse of my own like Howard's?"

The frown faded from his face and his eyes took on a dreamy look. "If I had a colt--"

He had been saying that for a long time. Sometimes he said it in his sleep at night. It was the first thing he had thought when he got to the ranch three days ago. He said it or thought it every time he saw his brother riding Highboy. And when he looked at his father, the longing in his eyes was for that--for a colt of his own. "If I had a colt, I'd make it the most wonderful horse in the world. I'd have it with me all the time, eating and sleeping, the way the Arabs do in the book Dad's got on the kitchen shelf." He stroked Cigarette's nose with the unconscious gesture of an automaton. "I'd get a tent and sleep in it myself, and I'd have the colt beside me, and it would have to learn to live just the way I do; and I'd feed it so well it would grow bigger than any other horse on the ranch; and it would be the fastest; and I'd school it so it would follow me wherever I went, like a dog--" At this he paused, struck through and through with bliss at the thought of arousing such devotion in a horse that it would follow him.

There was no warmth yet in the level rays of the sun, and the dawn wind was cold on the mountain side, so that Ken presently began to shiver in his thin dark blue cotton jersey. He turned to face the wind, tasting something of freshness and wildness that went to his head and made him want to run and shout--and ride and ride--to go on all day--as fast as he could and never stop--
He was hatless, and the wind made a tousled mop of his soft straight brown hair, and whipped color into his thin cheeks that had not yet lost the whiteness of winter school-days. His face was beautiful with the young look of wildness and freedom, and his dark blue dreaming eyes.

He must get on Cigarette again.

The moment this thought passed through his mind, Cigarette knew it and turned her head a little to look at him. Her whole body got ready. Not exactly resistant, but waiting.

First he had an apology to make. In all fairness, he must tell Cigarette that the fault had been his own. He had put his heels into her.

He knew exactly what his father would say if he told him about it.

"Cigarette bucked and tossed me."

"What did you do? Put your heels into her?"

"Yes, sir."

He and Howard had to say Yes, sir, and No, sir, to their father because he had been an Army officer before he had the ranch, and believed in respect and discipline.

Gathering up the rein, slipping it over Cigarette's head, Ken was humming, "Yes, sir--No, sir--Yes, sir--No, sir--" and this seemed to have a soothing effect on Cigarette.

When his father had mounted Cigarette, to show him how, she stood like a statue; never started or jumped; and then had moved off slowly and comfortably like a well-behaved horse in a park. When he mounted her, like as not she would toss him four or five times running, all because he couldn't help trying to grab on with his heels the moment he straddled her. That she wouldn't stand; and that he couldn't help doing.


Excerpted from My Friend Flicka
by Mary O'Hara
Copyright © 2006 by Mary O'Hara.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2008

    a sixth graders reveiw.... yay......

    I've read the book , listened to the audio tape on my i pod, and watched the movie to!!!! very good, very very outstanding!!!!! I've seen the sequel'Thunderhead' I just have to read it!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2013

    A true classic in every possible way. My Friend Flicka is one o

    A true classic in every possible way.

    My Friend Flicka is one of my favorite works of fiction, not just because of the beautiful horses, but because of Ken. As I grew older and understood the story more, I realized how much I connected with Ken. He is just like me; bored with school, artistic, a dreamer, unfocused and a horse-lover. He is my fictional counterpart.
    As for the novel itself; while it's old and rather dated, it is quite a treat for horse-lovers (and even for those who aren't horse lovers). I must warm you, there is quite a lot of swearing and violence, as this deals with the harsh reality of living on the range. This is along the same league as "National Velvet": a classic horse story that is more adult-like, sort of hard to follow, and barley sugar-coats (if at all) a thing.
    If you want a real pleaser, read this story. It's descriptive and colorful with words, and while it can be hard to understand and seems to "wander off" from time-to-time (as more older books do), it's a real classic you shouldn't pass up. You will find out how life-like the novel is and you may find yourself emphasizing with a character, as did I.

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  • Posted April 22, 2010

    I love this book.........

    In this book a girl by the name of Kaite is havign truble in life.She cant find her place just like ever teenager in the world she feels like she dosent belong.She was supposed to write a paper school,she had everything in her mind.She just couldnt bring herself to put it on paper.Oh did I mintion that her parents have to pay for her to go to a private school.She knows that she is going to be intruble when she gets him so she tried to keep it to herself.That worked well utill the teachers e-mailed in a report on how she was doin in stead of saying good
    things about her like they normally get fro her teachers they got a very bad report.It said that she had been kicked out for unwillingness to do her work in school.So her mother showes her father wile she was out riding her horses.When she finaly gets back her mother is staning at the dore waiting tapping her foot at her.She knows for that momantshe is in deep truble.Her dad was very angry at her but he told her that everything would be ok that summer she would write her book report and turn it then maybe they will exept her back into school.She said yes sir.She ketp trying and trying to write it down but still yet she could only think of this.To get things off her mind she goes riding again.While her and her horse is out riding her horse all of the sudden starts to go crazy.She didnt know what was going on untill she saw it.It was a wild mountain line.All of the suden a horse came from nowhere,and scared away it away.A wild mustang.They are very dangerous.And that is when she met flicka .....I highly recomind this book to people who like horses they will love this book.It is an odd love story read it and see for yourself...

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    story about a horse and a boy and his father

    When I was growing up out in rural southern Ohio, many of the girls with whom I went to school had horses, and many who did not have horses still loved them anyway. I worked in the high school library, and the three books that I noticed were constantly being checked out by the horse living crowd were Black Beauty, National Velvet, and My Friend Flicka. I have now read all three. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is a lovely book about a horse which I highly recommend. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold is a book about a horse and a girl which is fair, though there were some bad language and one disturbing scene. My Friend Flicka is about a horse and a boy, Ken McLaughlin, who lives with his father, a retired military officer turned rancher and horse breeder, mother, older brother, and two ranch hands on Goose Bar Ranch in Wyoming. Ken chooses a half-wild yearling as his horse and works to tame the filly who tries to escape and is severely injured, then Ken gets very sick while seeking to keep the horse from being shot.
    Previously, I had read two different views of this book by friends. One said, "It contained a significant amount of profanity," while another wrote, "It's been a favorite with my children." Having read the unabridged version, I can attest to the fact that it does contain a lot of profanity and cursing--even the mother, who is normally placid, uses the "d" word on one occasion. However, I had seen a version among those cute little books for girls with the lockets wrapped up with them, and I suspect that it has been edited with much of the offending material removed. It would be interesting to obtain a copy of the of the cute little book for girls and see if this is the case. Others have confirmed that there is a "Reader's Digest Condensed Version" that does eliminate the profanity. Another friend sent me the following information: "I usually wanted my girls to read the originals of classic titles, instead of watered down versions. But when I re-visited My Friend Flicka as an adult and a Christian, I decided to not have them read it. I did find a Reader's Digest condensed version - it is much, much cleaner. RD removed most, if not all, of the profanity to my recollection. Yet they retained the better language usage and higher level of vocabulary words. If your child is a horse fan, look for it in the Reader's Digest Condensed Books. I don't have it handy in order to give the year of publication."
    More than a story of a boy and a horse, the book is really a story about how the relationship between the boy and the horse affects how the father and son come to understand each other better. The story is actually not a bad one, and Jeremy (who was about ten at the time), to whom I read it aloud (with A LOT of editing!), enjoyed it, although he did get a little upset with the father's attitude on occasion. If it were not for the language, I could give it a higher rating. Many people are familiar with the relatively good film based on the book starring a young Roddy McDowell. There is a sequel, Thunderhead, about the son of Flicka, also made into a movie with Roddy McDowell.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2006

    A wonderful, whimsical adventure

    My Friend Flicka is a wonderful book about the triumphs and tribulations of taming a difficult horse. Ken learns many lessons from taming Flicka, and Flicka learns to trust people, something her mother never learned.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2006

    A Horse Lover

    I recommend the book because it's not very hard to understand. Students who are ages 8 to 12 years can enjoy this book, but if you are older, you should still read it because it is a beautiful story about a boy's friendship with a horse. One day the horse gets hurt and it's up to the boy to take care of Flicka so she can get better. This book is recommended for people who are in love with horses.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Although he made his audio book debut just two readings ago, stage, screen and television actor Michael Louis Wells is in full command of the metier with his narration of the classic My Friend Flicka. Many will remember the story as a film with Roddy McDowall, as a TV series or as a current film. Wells is on a par with all of the actors who have undertaken bringing this touching tale to life. The reason for the story's many incarnations is obvious - it is one of our best-loved books and well deserves its place among others that are enjoyed from generation to generation, such as Treasure Island and Mutiny on the Bounty. Pivotal to O'Hara's story is Ken and his seeming laissez faire attitude. Where his mind is his father, Rob, certainly doesn't know. He's a young boy who would much rather just look out a window than study his arithmetic. He should have studied because his report card is so poor that he's doomed to repeat a grade. Rob undoubtedly wonders whether he'll even catch on the second time around. Their home is Wyoming's Goose Bar Ranch and Rob is working hard to make a go of it. He doesn't need a son who seems given to daydreams. Then, along comes Flicka, a beautiful chestnut filly, with a wild streak inherited from her sire. Ken is certain he can tame Flicka, and so begins the unforgettable relationship between a boy and his horse. O'Hara wrote a follow-up to her story, Thunderhead, but it never achieved the popularity of My Friend Flicka, a timeless story to be enjoyed over and over again. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2005

    Simply wonderful!

    On the Goose Bar Ranch in Wyoming, between the World Wars, former Army captain Rob McLaughlin and his Eastern blue-blood wife, Nell, are raising two sons and an ever-growing herd of thoroughbred horses. Rob, a stern but loving father, doesn't know what to do with younger son Ken. The boy daydreams constantly, and for that reason just failed to be promoted at his boarding school. Why should Rob give small Ken a colt of his own, as he already has older son Howard, when Ken can't do anything that demonstrates he's responsible enough to be trusted? Yet a colt is what Ken wants more than anything else in the world. Until he finds out what happens to male horses when they're two years old - after which he decides he'd rather have a filly. Not just any filly, though. Flicka, born to the half-wild mare called Rocket. Flicka is faster already than her sire, the ranch's stud horse Banner, and Ken believes he'll be able to train Rocket's 'bad blood' out of the yearling. Rob thinks his son is (to use his word for it) dumb, for a lot of reasons that now include choosing this filly that Rob is sure will turn out to be just as 'loco' as her dam. Untrainable, and downright dangerous to those who try to handle her. This novel is a perfect example of the type of children's classic that, when read by adults, proves to have depths and layers its target audience never perceives. I know I read it as a young girl, and enjoyed it as both a good 'horse story' and coming of age tale. But in reading it again now, I was amazed by the detailed and multi-faceted characters of Rob and Nell. Their love story is one of the most interesting I've read, because the author not only captures the tensions between these two very different people - she also captures the way that raising their children, who are (for better or worse!) a blending of those differences, affects their relationship. No wonder this book is still in print more than 60 years after it was first published. Simply wonderful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2005


    I was a little disappointed with the book. He doesn't even meet Flicka until page 170!! After that they don't really establish a bond until the end. The drama at the end was a little much too; but i guess it was pretty entertaining

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2005

    The best book yet!

    This book is excellent. It on;y took me a day to read it because I could NOT put it down lol. It makes u want a colt of ur own! the chacacters are great, the plot is great, the book is great!!! i advise every horse luver to read it!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2003

    Horse Lover!

    hey i'm a 15 year old and i love this book. I read it because i was interested in what kind of a horse mine was named after.... and like the book boy does she have a mind of her own but like ken and flicka, me and my horse Flicka share a bond. This book is great and i incurage everyone to read it..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2003


    this was an excellent book!i am the biggest horse lover than anyone else and i was just so in love with this book! i mean the characters were great and it really got into how the horses thought of people and how it gave u a real outlook on wild horses on how beautiful they are & it made u care for them even more!this is a must read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2003

    Awesome book!

    A very touching book! I could NOT put it down, and it does make you day dream about having a foal/horse of your own... great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2003

    My Friend Flicka

    I REALLY loved this book, it was really touching and i couldn't put it down, a must read book for all ages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2002

    One of my best friends

    This book is one of my best friends. It is one of my favorite stories and I'd recomend it to anyone of any age. It will make you daydream about having your own filly one day or take you back to the time when you believed that only you could tame a wild horse. I loved this story so much that I named my own horse Flicka... and wouldn't you know it.. she's got a mind of her own too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2002

    Pretty good book aboutt the relationship between a boy and his horse

    this book was about a Ken and his horse, Flicka. Its a touching story, that expands to the relationship between the boy and his military precisional father, who judically critisizes Ken's every move. Flicka gives Ken the sense of responsibility and understanding that only a horse like Flicka can give, to such a low-ebbed and ranch housed boy. I enjoyed the book emmensly, only wishing that the publisher could have said more of the book's well enunciated plot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2000

    The best book for horse lovers out there

    My Friend Flicka is an outstanding book for all ages .It tells about the good times and the bad times with Flicka. When Flicka was captured Ken's mother and father were'nt sure if Flicka was the right horse for Ken ,but Ken put his heart to it .When they went to go halter break Flicka she was fine but when Ken wanted to ride Flicka she was loco (means not able to ride )Find out if Ken is able to ride Flicka.In My Friend Flicka By Mary O Hara.I enjoyed this book and I know you will to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2000

    a great book

    can't put it down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2000

    A book written with real feeling.

    When I read this book I cried, but I loved it. I couldn't put it down. You get the feeling that this could really happen, what people could really feel, like the bond between a boy and his horse, Flicka.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2000

    Tears of joy

    In this wonderful tale of emotion and growing up you will meet a child, Ken, that disappoints his father every time he turns a corner. His young colt Flicka helps him to grow up and face his problems and the facts. His father learns to respect Ken as Ken learns to respect his father.

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