Cover image for The magical Christmas horse
The magical Christmas horse
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 26 cm.
Reading Level:
AD 910 L Lexile
Added Author:
Eight-year-old Johnny, who lives in Arizona but feels a special connection to his grandfather's 265-year-old farm house in Washington, Connecticut, is overjoyed when his family spends Christmas there.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY CLA 1 1
Book EASY CLA 1 1
Book EASY CLA 1 1

On Order



Johnny's wish had come true. His family would be visiting his grandparents for Christmas. His grandparents lived in an old house in New England where his father had been born. The family together, the smells of the cookies baking, the snowy Christmas tree farm with trees of so many shapes and sizes, and most of all the wooden horse he had told his brother Liam about would make this the best Christmas ever. In his grandparents' attic Johnny finds many treasures, but the wooden horse he remembered so well is missing. How can Johnny make his brother's Christmas wish come true?

Beloved and internationally bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark's loving story together with Wendell Minor's captivating paintings make The Magical Christmas Horse a book that captures the true heart of Christmas and one that families will make part of their Christmas tradition year after year.

Author Notes

Mary Higgins Clark was born in the Bronx, New York on December 24, 1927. After graduating from high school and before she got married, she worked as a secretary, a copy editor, and an airline stewardess. She supplemented the family's income by writing short stories. After her husband died in 1964, leaving her with five children, she worked for many years writing four-minute radio scripts before turning to novels. Her debut novel, Aspire to the Heavens, which is a fictionalized account of the life of George Washington, did not sell well. She decided to focus on writing mystery/suspense novels and in 1975 Where Are the Children? was published. She received a B.A. in philosophy from Fordham University in 1979.

Her other works include While My Pretty One Sleeps, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Moonlight Becomes You, Pretend You Don't See Her, No Place Like Home, The Lost Years, The Melody Lingers On, As Time Goes By and Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry. She is the author of the Alvirah and Willy series, which began with Weep No More, My Lady. She is also the co-author, with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, of several holiday crossover books including Deck the Halls, He Sees You When You're Sleeping, Santa Cruise, The Christmas Thief, and Dashing Through the Snow. She writes the Under Suspicion series with Alafair Burke. In 2001, Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir was published. She received numerous honors including the Grand Prix de Literature of France in 1980), the Horatio Alger Award in 1997, the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society, the Spirit of Achievement Award from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University the first Reader's Digest Author of the Year Award 2002 and the Christopher Life Achievement Award in 2003.

Many of her titles have made the best sellers list. Her recent books include All By Myself, Alone, I've Got My Eyes On You, and You Don't Own Me.

Bestselling suspense novelist, Mary Higgins Clark died on January 31, 2020 at the age of 92.

(Bowker Author Biography) Mary Higgins Clark has written nineteen novels & three short story collections since 1975. She has served as president of the Mystery Writers of America & lives in Saddle River, New Jersey.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3-Eight-year-old Johnny is eager to visit his grandparents in their big stone house in Connecticut. He vividly remembers his last trip there when he was three, and his strongest memory is of a beautiful, hand-carved wooden horse. Johnny tells his little brother, Liam, that this year, it will be his turn to enjoy it-but the horse has vanished. Will wishing be enough to bring it back on Christmas Day? This story of a caring family, skillfully illustrated in gouache and watercolor, warmly and effectively conveys the selfless ideal of the season.-Linda Israelson, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nostalgic paintings and narrative, along with these collaborators' (Ghost Ship) hefty fan bases, are likely to make this a solid holiday seller. The title is a tad misleading: there isn't magic attached to the antique wooden horse that Johnny remembers playing with at his grandparents' Connecticut farmhouse. Having promised his younger brother that the horse will be his Christmas gift this year, Johnny is crushed to find that the horse is missing. Johnny's a little too good to be true, and the conclusion is syrupy, but Minor's gouache and watercolor art, featuring his characteristic exquisite detail, gives the book its magic. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

The prolific mystery writer turns her hand to children's Christmas stories with a sentimental tale of a beloved family heirloom that is restored just in time for reappearance under the Christmas tree.A little boy named Johnny remembers a previous holiday visit to his grandparents' New England farm, where he rode on a white riding-horse toy that had been in the family for several generations. Now he and his younger brother, Liam, and their parents are returning to the farm for Christmas. Johnny has promised Liam that he can ride the family heirloom, but the horse was lent out the previous Christmas and never returned. Johnny finds the dilapidated horse in the attic, and his father and grandfather restore it for Liam. Some elements of the plot are a stretch: The horse looks like it was left out in the snow for a decade or two, and the restoration project is accomplished with unbelievable speed. The text is long and drawn-out, with lots of stated rather than implied emotions and too-obvious symbolism.Minor's accomplished illustrations in watercolor and gouache provide strong visual personalities for the main characters and a distinct setting on the snowy New England farm with its 19th-century stone farmhouse.Even with attractive illustrations and a Christmas setting, a plodding story doesn't create any magic.(Picture book. 4-7)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

The magic in the title of Clark's latest collaboration with Minor has less to do with Santa Claus or elves than with the power of generosity and tradition. As in Ghost Ship (2007), the past has a hold on the book's young protagonist. Johnny is an eight-year-old boy growing up in Arizona, where his famous artist-father paints desert scenes, but he longs for another Christmas at his grandparents' farm in Connecticut. He was last there when he was three, and now he wants his little brother, Liam, to ride the wheeled wooden horse he so fondly remembers. Minor's watercolor-and-gouache paintings capture the appeal of a country Christmas, giving a glow to the farmhouse as well as a sense of warmth and safety. Johnny discovers the horse broken in the attic, but by Christmas morning, Johnny's father and grandfather have somehow restored it to its former glory. This is a prosperous farm of two hundred acres, but what's emphasized is the men's hands-on collaboration for the sake of two little boys.--Nolan, Abby Copyright 2010 Booklist