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Old Bones the Wonder Horse
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Old Bones the Wonder Horse

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  2,908 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
"This is the true, rags-to-riches story of Exterminator, one of the best-loved American horses. Old Bones, as he was affectionately called, came out of nowhere to win a Kentucky Derby and to run a hundred races before his retirement."
Hardcover, 119 pages
Published January 1st 1956 by Mc Graw Hill Co (first published January 1st 1955)
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Community Reviews

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April Helms
Jan 16, 2008 April Helms rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: children
A must for children who love horses. This is a fictionalized account of Exterminator, or Old Bones, whose career included 100 races, and a Kentucky Derby win.
Jul 31, 2008 Sheree rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anybody
I love this book. I have had it since I was a little child when my father would read it to me before bed.

It's a story of a racing horse that everyone thought couldn't cut it in the big leagues. Old Bones isn't a very pretty horse but he has the heart of a champion.

It's about facing challenges and doing the best you can do even though nobody has faith in you.
Dec 03, 2008 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young Readers
Recommended to Lauren by: Third Grade Teacher
Absolutely GREAT book. I must for beginning readers who love animals. I read it in third grade and it is still one of my all time favorites.
May 30, 2010 Saori rated it it was amazing
I found this in the throw-away pile at my school and rescued it. I'm not usually a horse book person, but while my 7th-graders were taking their exams, it gave me something to do. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It personifies the horse from page one. It tells of his beginnings and overcoming prejudices from the racing community and even his owner and his surprise win at the Kentucky Derby.
Nov 03, 2010 Stacy rated it really liked it
A sweet kids book that tells the true story of Exterminator. Exterminator was a Thoroughbred born in 1915. He was a rather gangly looking horse and no one really thought much of him. However, one trainer did eventually see him run and thought he had potential. This is Exterminator's rags to riches story.

The story has been simplified for children and some details are changed to highlight the drama of his life, but it rings true in spirit.

While suitable for any child that loves horses, it is reall
Michael Barnette
Jan 01, 2011 Michael Barnette rated it it was amazing
This was one of many horse related books that I read during elementary school. It's the mostly true account of a real race horse, Exterminator. I still own a copy of it, rather dogeared and a few pages torn, but mine all the same. It's a great read for 3rd to 6th graders--I actually read it when I was about 8-9 as I recall.
Mar 19, 2011 Racquel rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 07, 2011 Marci rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was a young girl and loved every horse book I could get my hands on. I still remember how admirable this horse's temperament and will were. I think I might read it again!
Jun 10, 2011 Jen rated it really liked it
Having lived in and around Louisville for a few years, and having many friends from that area, I can't not be aware of the Derby and of horse racing culture in general. So to find this story from when I was a kid and had no idea where Louisville was is delightful; again, the horse phase that didn't die. This is a great, quick read about a horse who is wonderful and people who believe no matter what--really, I'm surprised someone hasn't snatched it up to make the next Seabiscuit or Secretariat (n ...more
Jan 10, 2015 Wendy rated it liked it
This was a cute little book. I would've appreciated it more if I'd read it as a child, because I would have noticed the blatant attempts to emulate Marguerite Henry a lot less, I think. As it is, I'm an adult, and it felt like a pale imitation.

I would recommend this for children; for adults who, like me, didn't read this as a kid and therefore lack nostalgia goggles, I would recommend the Thoroughbred Legends book about Exterminator.
Feb 20, 2013 Beth rated it liked it
Short children's book about Exterminator, a famous American race horse from the early part of the 20th century. Not a lot of detail is included, and the horse is given emotions and thoughts that we couldn't possibly know if he had. Still it's a cute little book.
Sharon Leaf
Jun 09, 2012 Sharon Leaf rated it it was amazing
My first book that I fell in love with over 55 years ago. Each year I wrote a book report about Old Bones and I still have the original book.
Sep 11, 2012 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great children's book about an amazing racehorse that did what no one thought he could. The actual horse was real and did race until the old age of nine and won 50 of his 99 starts.
Mar 29, 2013 Laurynn rated it it was amazing
This was my favorite book when I was in second grade. I've reread this countless times, and that's saying something, since I hate rereading things.
May 12, 2013 Dennis rated it really liked it
The black stallion books introduced me to horse stories and this book expanded that interest to include non-fiction. A slight fictionalization of a true story that does a great job of drawing a reader in and capturing their interest.
Jan 09, 2016 Izzy rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book was so inspiring and so well written. It is an easy read for a middle or high school student but it would be a nice book to read aloud to a 1st or 2nd grader
Oct 30, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing
Thanks to a co-worker who lent me this book, I learned the heartwarming story of Exterminator, aka Old Bones, an unknown horse who won the Kentucky Derby in 1918 and went on to become a racing champion. Delightful!
This is an old favorite that I loved when I was 8 or so. My battered old paperback edition & another both gave up the ghost when my kids read them, so I've been without for years. Can't recall the last time I read it myself or to/with one of the kids. Then I won an Ebay auction & the seller couldn't find the book she sold me, so let me choose another from her offerings. I found this, an old hard back lacking the dust cover.

It was a very quick & easy read with quite a few excellent ch
Feisty Harriet
Dec 13, 2013 Feisty Harriet rated it liked it
I read this book as a kid and love love loved it. It’s basically the 100-page version of Seabiscuit, but about the racehorse Exterminator who raced in the 19-teens. It’s a really quick read, and after I read Seabiscuit I decided to pull this out and see how much of the story I remembered correctly. It’s charming, and definitely for a young reader (elementary school probably), but I loved it anyway.
Joy H.
Added 1/3/14.
Jim of my GR group recommended this story as one of his childhood favorites. I bought it "used" online and enjoyed it very much. It's a warmly told story about a real champion horse named "Exterminator", and affectionately called "Old Bones". It was published in 1955 and is about 94 pages long with enjoyable illustrations.

The book won the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award (1957).

I liked it so much that I searched our local library catalog and found another good young ad
April Brown
Apr 18, 2014 April Brown rated it really liked it
What ages would I recommend it too? Six and up.

Length? An evening to read.

Characters? Memorable, several characters.

Setting? Real World, 1915 - 1945.

Written approximately? 1955.

Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? Ready to read more.

Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? No.

Short storyline: A young colt goes from an exercise colt to the racer he wants to be.

Notes for the reader: Reasonably well written. Leaves out a few parts the reader might want to kno
Rena Sherwood
This was one of the most beloved books of my childhood. I think I stole a copy from my fourth grade class library (although I placed four or five of my old books out of guilt.) I either stole it or managed to convince my blood-sucking harridan of a teacher to manage a trade of my four books for one battered paperback.

However, in recent years I bought a more factual and less sentimental book on Exterminator (Old Bones) and this story suffered in comparison. Wesley Dennis' illustrations are magni
Nov 11, 2014 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
Other than Charlotte's Web, this was my very favorite book as a child. I think I read it five or six times, beginning in third grade. Obviously, I was a horse-crazy little girl! I happened to find a copy in the book sale room operated by the Friends of the Library in our local library. What a treasure! I enjoyed reading it as an adult just as much as I did when I was young. It is based on the life of a real race horse and is a well-written animal story. I am so happy I now have a copy that I can ...more
Rosa Cline
May 03, 2015 Rosa Cline rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, biography
This was a book GoodReads recommended for me based on what I had read and what I had on my to read list. Am glad they did as it was a very good book; although it is a child's book. Apparently there aren't but a couple of books written about this amazing horse! Just because "Old Bones" was a race horse in the early 1900's doesn't mean that he shouldn't have books written about him just like the modern day racehorses do... was kind of disappointing to not find any more books written about him afte ...more
Jan 16, 2015 Sandra rated it it was amazing
I passing this on to my grandchildren as it is a wonderful true story. Even as an adult, I loved it!
Aug 18, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it
A wonderful horse book for children, filled with wonderful illustrations by Wesley Dennis. I had heard of Exterminator back in my horse-crazy days but never knew his story. :-)
Cathy Smith
Apr 05, 2015 Cathy Smith rated it it was amazing
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads. I liked the story. I thought it might be more factual, and a lot of the details were just drawn over, but the gist of the story was good. If this is based on the real horse, then I would have liked the details all the way through...a timeline of events and life and death would have been informative. How old was he when he died? Did Mike stay with him until the end? Where is he buried? All things I was hoping to read, but were not includ ...more
Aug 20, 2015 E. rated it really liked it
I MUST reread this. I now remember loving it as a young girl; had forgotten it until I went sleuthing through Goodreads' "recommendations" list.
Dec 19, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
My favorite book as a child and still a favorite today. He never got the recognition that he should as he was racing the same time as Man O' War, another great one.
Bonnie Wilson
Aug 17, 2016 Bonnie Wilson rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book - read it when I was about eight. The prose is clear but not overly simple, young readers can relate to the stable boy, and the ugly-duckling underdog-to-champion tale is actually true.

I have a paper copy with the cover depicted above. (I did NOT like the name change to the uninspired "Kentucky Derby Champion." Exterminator was more than a Kentucky Derby winner - he was one of the all-time great horses - truly a "wonder horse.")
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