Listening Corner

23rd June 1995 at 01:00
HORSE PIE by Dick King-Smith Age group: 4-8 Book and cassette tape (20 mins). Pounds 4.99. Corgi Audio

Barry Took and Marty Feldman, the scriptwriters of Round the Horne were, I recall, alarmingly obsessed with a horsemeat shop in the Balls Pond Road, the doorway of which regularly figured in the programme as a trysting place.

Now, we British no longer eat horses and current sensitivities are such that many children worry about the issues around meat-eating in general. Dick King-Smith's short tale of the threat to smuggle two carthorses across the channel to satisfy the appetites of the nasty French might well, therefore, provide a focal point for discussion of the ethics of animal husbandry and slaughter, as well as being a good story.

Dick King-Smith's gently-humorous style is reassuring to the young reader and his talking animals are never excessively twee. "They're big-headed with it, not to mention the size of their backsides" is Alfie's comment on the snooty shire horses.

It is a good, short and simple adventure yarn, set in an Old Horses' Home, in which wit and kindness ultimately overcome brute strength and ill-manners. It tells of a retired donkey called Jenny who, with the help of her pony friend Alfie, saves three rather bullying and unpleasant shire horses from the rustlers. The big horses, needless to say, are suitably chastened and grateful.

The reader is David Riley, and his virtuoso range of voices and accents (why are sly nasties always from Birmingham?) adds considerably to the listener's enjoyment. The package includes the full text of the story in a print size suited to the age range.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now