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My Friend Flicka

My Friend Flicka

4.6 26
by Mary O'Hara

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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


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.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 7.16(h) x 0.82(d)
960L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

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.

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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My Friend Flicka 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous_Horse_Lover_ More than 1 year ago
I love this book! A charming classic, My Friend Flicka will always be in the hearts of horse lovers. I personally love this book, as I am a horse lover. Even people who don't love horses might enjoy this book. (You at least need to admire horses to enjoy it, though.) Mary O'Hara is a wonderful author. I would like to read her other books.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
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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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A long time ago I read this book when I was like eight or nine and now I'm thirteen and I only just now remembered it but I remember it used to be one of my favorites and I love Flicka what a good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this book because when i bought my filly back when she was one.. she had benn named after flicka the horse in the shows and the book... i wanted to know more about this horse so i read the book.. it's a good book i think i cried maybe 2 or 3 times... its about this boy that has always wanted a colt of his own to train.. so his dad gave him a filly hoping it would make him learn some responsibility... and let me tell you this horse is a brat just like my flicka.. what a coincidence! ;)
Guest More than 1 year ago
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..
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I REALLY loved this book, it was really touching and i couldn't put it down, a must read book for all ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
can't put it down