Clare is going to spend the summer at her Aunty Dora’s cottage in Devon with her mum and dad. The journey begins badly with her parents quarrelling. Clare doesn’t like staying with her Aunt Dora because her aunt sides with her father when he and her mother argue.
Early one morning, Clare takes the opportunity to go out for a walk alone. Whilst she is walking, she discovers a lost lamb and takes it to the nearest house. The lamb belongs to a recluse called Thatcher Jones. He invites Clare in for a cold drink and introduces her to Captain, his very old horse.
Clare and Captain become firm friends and she even takes him out for a walk. Whilst they are walking, a car stops and a reporter gets out. He wants to take their photograph. Clare and Captain’s photograph appears in the local paper. However, when tragedy strikes, Clare comes up with a clever plan to ease Thatcher Jones’ sorrow.
The story is based on an experience author, Michael Morpurgo’s wife, Clare, had as a child. She spent her Easter holidays in Devon and used to take Thatcher Jones’ horse, Captain, for walks round the lanes. She too had her photograph taken by a local paper.
This story is a gentle acknowledgement of the beauty of the countryside. The peace of the landscape forms a poignant contrast to the turmoil in Clare’s family. The text is complemented by Catherine Rayner’s gorgeous illustrations of wild flowers, and the cover is embossed with a wonderful image of cow parsley.
The book is part of the Conkers imprint produced by Barrington Stoke. It aims to provide the next step for struggling or reluctant readers by building confidence. These stories are shorter with easier vocabulary but there is no compromise to the excitement or quality of the storytelling, and they use great authors and illustrators. As usual with Barrington Stoke books, the design including font, spacing and paper have been carefully produced to be dyslexia-friendly.