Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner

robert the rose horse

Robert the Rose Horse
Joan Heilbroner
Illustrated by P. D. Eastman


Here’s another book I remember from long ago and this one’s also about a horse, a farm and a city. Robert the horse is allergic to roses and his gigantic sneezes blast everyone and everything high in the sky. To get away from all the roses on their farm, his parents send him to the city to work.

Robert gets a job pulling a milk cart all around the city. But he discovers that there are roses in the city too, and that’s a big problem! His “KERCHOOS” cost him this job, and the next one too. Robert is in a bad spot.

Robert had to look for work again.
He looked and looked.
Fathers had work.
Mothers had work.
Every one had some kind of work.
But there were not many jobs for a horse.

Finally he sees a job he can do – he can be a police horse! He’s good at his job and he’s happy. He knows he has to act quickly when he sees some bad guys enter a bank, but how can he stop the robbers?

And then…
Robert saw a rose!
It was not a big rose.
But it was a rose!
Robert began to think.
He began to think fast.

I’m sure you can guess what happens next!

I enjoyed remembering this fun story from my childhood and I also read it to my kids when they were little. You might not like the scene with the robbers, because they carry guns and the guns go off during the biggest KERCHOO ever. You definitely wouldn’t see that in a children’s book today!

It’s interesting to think about how different children’s books are now. And that extends to how we raise our kids. Do we always protect them from the rough stuff or do we tell it like it is? I had forgotten all about the guns in this book until I read it to my kids. It bothered me a little, but it did not bother them. The story is not violent.  It’s gentle, in fact.  And it sends a nice message. Robert’s quick thinking saves the day and no one gets hurt. The secondary message about working for a living is nice, too.

In a Publishers Weekly interview cited below, Heilbroner makes an interesting comment about how she came up with the idea to write Robert the Rose Horse.

“I got the idea for Robert the Rose Horse because Fidel Castro was in town,” she recalls, “and there were police horses all over the city. That has nothing to do with my story, but the horses were the trigger.”

What’s your opinion about children’s stories? Should they include the realities of the times, but incorporate a positive message? Or should they just be happy stories? I’m not sure…

Joan Heilbroner
Joan Heilbroner

Joan Heilbroner is an author of children’s books. Robert the Rose Horse was published in 1962. Here is a list of her other books.

Meet George Washington (Landmark Books) (1964)

The Happy Birthday Present (1962)

This Is The House Where Jack Lives (1962)

Tom the TV Cat (1984)

A Pet Named Sneaker (2013)

Heilbroner is still writing! Here’s a link to a recent interview, describing her recent book, A Pet Named Sneaker:

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