Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Reading And Walking: King Of The Wind




Today I’m starting a new series on the blog called Reading and Walking. I stole this idea from Booktuber Jen Campbell. She filmed herself listening to an audiobook and walking around London. Along the way, she stopped to tell YouTube about the book and about London. I thought I’d try to replicate this in blog form. I can’t show you London because it’s 4,683 miles (I Googled it) away from where I live, so you’ll have to be content with looking at the frozen, desolate middle-of-nowhere that I call home:






Snow, cattails, and cottonwood trees. Those are your only choices of things to look at.



The book I chose to listen to is King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian by Marguerite Henry. I chose it because it’s a Newbery winner (from 1949), and because the audiobook is 3 hours, 19 minutes. I knew I could walk for that long. I’d be able to listen to the whole thing in one afternoon. 




King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian by Marguerite Henry



Genre: Middlegrade historical fiction
Pages: 176 (3hr 19min audiobook)
Publication date: 1948
Content warning: Slavery, animal abuse, homelessness, jail
He was named “Sham” for the sun, this golden red stallion born in the Sultan of Morocco’s stone stables. Upon his heel was a small white spot, the symbol of speed. But on his chest was the symbol of misfortune. Although he was as swift as the desert winds, Sham’s proud pedigree would be scorned all his life by cruel masters and owners.

This is the classic story of Sham and his friend, the stable boy Agba. Their adventures take them from the sands of the Sahara to the royal courts of France and, finally, to the green pastures and stately homes of England. For Sham was the renowned “Godolphin Arabian” whose blood flows through the veins of almost every superior Thoroughbred. Sham’s speed–like his story–has become legendary.



While listening, I walked north on the Cherry Creek Regional Trail. It was pretty dead out there. Probably because it was muddy, snowy, icy, and around 50°F (10°C). I lost count of how many times I almost slipped and broke my ass because my genius self wore running shoes instead of hiking boots. There weren’t many animals around. I saw crows, geese, and hawks. The tracks in the snow all belonged to humans, dogs, rabbits, and squirrels.

King of the Wind was probably an odd book choice because the first half of it takes place in sunny Morocco. The audiobook even has Moroccan music that plays at the beginning of each chapter. The main character, Agba, is a mute slave boy who works in the Sultan’s stables. Agba seems to have an easier time connecting to animals than to humans. He especially loves a small, feisty horse named Sham. The Sultan decides to gift Sham and Agba to King Louis XV of France, and that’s where things get tricky. Compared to the European horses, Sham looks sick and scrawny. King Louis doesn’t want him. As Sham is passed from owner to owner, Agba does everything he can to protect him and find him good homes.

The structure of this novel reminds me of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. Sham is constantly being passed around to new owners. Some of them are cruel and some are kind. Some accept Agba and others want nothing to do with him.

There are many child-appropriate themes in this book. It’s a story about kindness. Agba empathizes with animals and protects them when they can’t protect themselves. Many of the characters speak up when they see something wrong. One of the most powerful scenes in the book is when a man sees Sham being abused and offers to buy him, even though Sham is near death. This story is also about luck and how it doesn’t last forever. Just because life is bad (or good) right now doesn’t mean it’ll always be that way.

The author blends fact and fiction. Agba is a product of the author’s imagination, but The Godolphin Arabian was a real horse that lived from 1724-1753. He was a gift to King Louis XV, who promptly sold him as a cart horse. Today, the ancestry of most thoroughbreds in North America can be traced to The Godolphin Arabian.


These are rabbit tracks, I swear. 😏

Squirrel tracks.

Human tracks (including me-tracks).



King of the Wind is a short, sweet novel, but I have a few issues with it. First, many of the plot events rely entirely on coincidence. Second, the structure gets a bit tedious. Sham is passed from owner, to owner, to owner, to owner. You learn in the first chapter that Sham will become a world-famous father of race horses. Eventually, I got impatient with the journey. Just get to the race part!

My biggest issue is with the lack of character development. Agba doesn’t have much personality or backstory. All you learn about him is that he’s a mute Moroccan slave boy who loves animals. The book takes place over years. Agba’s body changes as he becomes a teenager, but his character doesn’t evolve at all.


This sign is NOT fake news.

An icy hill where I did NOT fall on my butt.

 

Listening to this audiobook was a great way of keeping myself entertained while walking. The audio narrator, David McCallum, has a nice accent and a pleasant voice. I didn’t mind listening to him for 3+ straight hours.

Overall, this isn’t one of my favorite Newbery winners, but I probably would have loved this book as a horse-crazy child.

In 3 hours and 19 minutes, I walked about 7 miles (11 kilometers). Hopefully I also burned a few calories. I was pretty successful at not getting distracted. I only had to rewind the book twice because I accidentally stopped paying attention to it. I’m going to do this again next month, which means it’s time to search my library’s catalog for short audiobooks.


Cherry Creek.

A frozen pond.

There are tiny black dots in this field. Those are kids playing Frisbee.

A crow.
Noisy sky beast. If you like peace and quiet, don't live near an Air Force base.

Not a real coyote. A fake coyote on a soccer field. It's meant to discourage real coyotes from snacking on the soccer players.








Do you listen to audiobooks? What do you do while listening to them?










36 comments:

  1. I love watching these videos on YouTube, so I'm super excited to see you trying them out on a blog. I really enjoyed this post; nice mix of pictures and book commentary.

    I've recently gotten back into audiobooks, although mostly listen when doing household jobs - nobody wants to accompany me on those via my blog. Haha!

    I hope we'll see more of these :-)

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    1. I’m hoping to do this every month. I just have to find days where I can walk for hours. That’s a bit challenging in winter.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I love audiobooks but have never actually gone on a walk with one. Genius! Although I’m worried I’d get so into that I’d wander aimlessly and get myself lost. Ha. The fake coyote is kinda weird and makes me wonder if all the real coyotes laugh and laugh about it.

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    1. Luckily, there aren’t too many places to get lost around here. I just followed the path. The fake coyotes aren’t very convincing, but maybe real coyotes aren’t very smart?

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. Love this as a post idea!!! All the pictures are great. When it is nice out I like to walk with my daughter and usually listen to audiobooks. I also listen when I drive or clean.

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    1. I should try listening while I’m cleaning. I usually watch TV while I clean.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. Hi AJ - I've never got into audio books ... but can definitely see the attraction of listening to a whole book - I'll have to remember and perhaps build it in and it'll make me walk further. I'd love to know more about the Godolphin history ... horses et al - so an interesting way to get to learn. I do prefer to read though .... However, great idea for us to see your area too ... thanks - good idea - cheers Hilary

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    1. I prefer reading, too. I tend to get distracted while listening to audiobooks.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. I love audiobooks! I drive roughly 2 hours everyday for work. During that time, I either put and audiobook on or listen to a podcast. I love this idea of read & walking but I don't think I can do that. I would get distracted too easily haha. Thank you for showing me all the different types of tracks. King of the Wind doesn't sound like a book that I would enjoy, but great review!

    Elle Inked @ Keep on Reading

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    1. I only got distracted twice! I was proud of myself. I probably didn’t get distracted because I walk on this path all the time. I don’t think I could walk somewhere new and listen to a book.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. Yep, I listen to audiobooks in the gym. But I like your walk and enjoyed the photos. While the setting might be different from Morocco, the wind would be something you experience on the high plains!

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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    1. Haha, yeah, the wind is pretty much the only thing this place has in common with Morocco.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  7. I always have two audiobooks going: one for chores and "pumping." (I have lymphedema and have to hook up to a machine for an hour each night. And one for my car. I adore audiobooks! We started listening to them as a family 30+ years ago when we would drive to ski vacations and when I drove my sons to a private Montessori school each morning. So hooked!

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    1. I should try listening to audiobooks while doing chores. I usually listen to the TV while cleaning or cooking.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  8. I never find time for audio books and I only have 13 in my collection! And 7 of those are Harry Potter and the three Hunger Games books, IT and 2x Game of Thrones!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Finding a day where I could walk for 3+ hours was difficult. I want to do it again, though.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  9. What a fun post! I mainly just listen to audiobooks in the car during my work commute, so you would have a nice view of the highway for 25 minutes, lol.

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  10. This is such an interesting way to post! I listen to audiobooks while I'm doing literally everything, including walking around my neighborhood. Your walk looks much nicer than mine though! XD I've never heard of this book, but it looks like something I would've loved years ago!

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    1. I probably would have loved this audiobook as a kid. I only read books about animals or arctic explorers.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  11. It might seem a little weird, but I absolutely love pictures like those. I'm one of those people that love the country and feel out of their element in the city.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I went to college and grad school in cities, and I hated them. There are too many people and too much noise! I don’t think I could live in a city.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  12. This is really a neat idea, AJ. I remember listening to a series on audio - and I ran on the same trail every day - so I have specific memories of where I was when I heard certain parts of the books. :) I'm sure there are many Cherry Creeks but is this particular one in Colorado? Oh, and I *know* those are bunny tracks because I have them around my house. ;)
    I'm sorry the book didn't work out so well for you. It did sound promising but character development is a hard thing to do without in a story. Hopefully your next pick will be better. :)

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    1. Okay, so I went and read your "About Me" to see you DO live in Colorado. I live in the not so flat part. ;) Maybe we can meet up sometime.

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    2. Yes, I live in Colorado. I have bunny tracks all around my house, too. The bunnies live under the deck and drive the dog crazy.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  13. Cherry Creek as in Cherry Creek Reservoir AJ??? Because we walked at that place one and a half year ago and we loved it!

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    1. If you’re talking about the one in Colorado, then yes, that’s where I walked with my audiobook.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    2. Yes that's the one in Colorado! It's just so good seeing it again!

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  14. Yes! When I walk I usually listen to audiobooks. In the spring and fall, for some reason, I prefer music; classical in the spring, and The Cure in autumn. Ha ha. 🎧

    I would have loved this book as a child, too. 🐴✨

    Fab photos. Thanks for sharing them. 👍✨

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    1. I usually listen to true crime podcasts while I walk. This was a nice change. I wasn’t used to walking without murder in my ears.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  15. I LOVE this idea! I might have to steal it at some point, though where I live there isn't many places that are cool/pretty to walk around. :(
    I wish it snowed here! Stupid Texas being too warm.
    I love listening to audio books. My favorite thing is that I can do almost ANYTHING while I listen. It gives me an excuse to read while I do things I'm actually supposed to be doing. Like laundry. And the dishes. And waiting for the kiddo at the bus stop. I have been listening to audio books all the time and whenever I can lately.

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    1. I hope you do steal this idea! I’d like to see where other people walk. I need to practice multitasking. When I do too much stuff, I get distracted and stop paying attention to the book.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  16. What a fun way to review. I love all the snowy pics (and you captions). I regularly listen to audiobooks. Mostly, I listen to them at work (a reason to love my desk job), but I also listen as I do chores, shop, and drive.

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  17. These photos are insane!!! Soooo beautiful. Loving this new feature on your blog!!! So cool!!! <3

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  18. I love that you did this in blog form and the photos from the walk look lovely. I only listen to audibooks when I walk as well. It's a half hour trek to uni one way so that's when I get my listening done. I don't think I have listened to that long of an audiobook in one go, so that is cool you did.

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  19. I love that you are getting out and walking to audio books! I haven't done this myself yet. Never seem to have the time for that. But after the semester ends. I load that audio book up and listen on my way home. That's my gift to myself. I hope you keep it up. It's nice to have some audio time to yourself.

    Mary

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