Charlie may be a 28 year old Clydesdale, but he is not happy with being “put to pasture”. He had worked hard all his life, and could be trusted to do whatever horsey task Mr. Spinks required. Even on regular trips to town Charlie did not really have to be tied up, He was always at hand, happy and proud to be working.
At the end of most days, a 5 o’clock bell called the townspeople, including Charlie and Mr. Spinks to the local tavern. For Charlie that bell also signaled a treat from the tavern’s cook! But now, even that was gone.
Marguerite Henry draws us into Charlie’s world of retirement sadness. She writes of Charlie standing “…in his silent field with only the grasshoppers thrumming their wings. … Day by day his head drooped lower and his tail hung limp as an old rope.” Not only does she tell us Charlie’s feelings, but when it is important she shows them to us so clearly that we feel them too. This is excellence in children’s writing. It properly involves the reader but more importantly, it helps the youngest readers make the proper connections between ideas and actions –it helps them read well.
One day, at the right time, the wind was just right. Charlie could hear the noises of the town, and could smell certain familiar smells! “It was as if he had heard a bell. He had to answer it.”
No, Charlie doesn’t just rush into town to slather for the cook’s tarts. He discovers something much more wonderful, and thereby earns his full name.