Horse Play

I'll be the Horse coverI’ll Be the Horse If You’ll Play With Me

Submitter: I’ll Be the Horse If You’ll Play With Me…..well the cover just says it all! While weeding our picture books I came across this 1975 gem. I did a double take when I read the cover. It’s just the wording that tripped me up. The little girl is offering to be the horse. I opened the book expecting to see her sitting on his back, galloping around. The older brother is actually just reclining on pillows on a kart while his little sister pulls him around. He finally agrees to give her a turn, but only if she lets him use her brand new crayons. The big bully uses up all her paper and then decides they should play cops and robbers instead. So now we move on from being a horse to being the one tied up (the robber). There’s another boy, perhaps another older brother and he offers to play with her. It’s this great little game called 52 Pickup. He throws the deck up in the air and then tells her to pick up all 52 cards. Poor kid can’t catch a break. Not even her dog or cat will play with her. She then happens upon her younger brother who is pulling the same kart with a doll in it. She gets this look on her face and then the last page is her reclining like a queen while he is the horse pulling her. I’m not sure what the lesson is here exactly….Take advantage of the weaker one?

Holly: Ha ha ha! This could be titled “Holly’s Childhood.” I am a middle child, so my older sister pulled stunts like this on me and I, in turn, tortured my little sister. Good times. Also, every time we asked my Dad to play cards, his signature answer was “Let’s play 52 Pick Up!”

I was born one year before this was published, making it 42 years old. I bet it circulated like crazy over the years, but it might raise some eyebrows in 2017.

Oliver in the wagon

tied up like the robber

fifty two pick up

Little brother pulling doll

Little brother pulls wagon



  1. I don’t know… it seems to me that while we identify bullying more, siblings are siblings and rivalry is rivalry, especially when siblings are close in age. I’m the oldest of six, and while I didn’t deliberately bully my next sister, she still didn’t forgive me for being two years older than she was until she had children of her own.

    Books that reflect family reality are just as valuable as books that reflect our aspirations for our children, I feel. Maybe a new copy?

  2. It seems to me the submitters are getting too touchy lately! First the bear scratching his back on a tree, and now this? A “double take” over the title? Why? Those of us with more than one child, or having grown up with siblings, know this is just the way it is, and not bullying. My youngest went along with his sister (2 years older) until he got old enough to know better! This book is a sequel to others, one where the older boy tries to give his baby sister away. Haven’t all older siblings wanted to do taht?

  3. Seems like pretty normal kid stuff to me. But, when I played horsie with my friends, the desirable role was the horse. One got to be much more expressive, with prancing hooves and whinnying.


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