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On My Bookshelf: Running With The Horses by Alison Lester

On My Bookshelf: Running With The Horses

by Alison Lester

Puffin Books

Penguin Random House 2019

This beautiful edition of Alison Lester’s heart rending story of bravery and resilience is the small format 2019 release, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the original publication.

The hard cover copy has a gorgeous linen-feel cover, dancing stallion end-papers, and smooth textured pages that are a delight to hold and touch. Presented as an illustrated text, it has the original pictures throughout the book, which has been divided into chapters.

Sorry, but it even smells divine!

The story has not changed. When I first saw that this edition had been released, I wondered if the text had been extended, but, no, it stands as is, making a lovely short-form chapter book, accessible to young readers.

The adventure starts with Nina, who lives with her father above the palace stables at the Royal Academy of Dancing Horses, discovering that her school has been closed and the city – Vienna – is rapidly being deserted as the fighting gets closer during the war.

From here, she and her father, along with one of the grooms, take the remaining four stallions (who could not fit on the truck that took the others to safety) and an old cab horse that has been left behind, and flee the city, travelling over the mountains to seek refuge at Nina’s grandparents’ farm. The journey that follows is fraught with danger as they hide from soldiers, cross fast flowing rivers, and navigate the snow covered mountains.

Running With the Horses is a fictionalised imagining based on the true story of the flight of the Lippizaner stallions from the famous school during the Second World War. A story of love and courage, this book is a must for young horse lovers, and a great adventure for anyone!

I loved sitting down by the fireside on a cold and rainy evening to re-read the story – which lends itself well to the new format – and pored once again over Alison Lester’s delightful illustrations as I followed Nina’s adventure with her beloved cab-horse friend, Zelda, and the famous dancing stallions.

Highly recommended!


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