Topics for Discussion
1. What are some similarities and differences between this horse story and others you have read? Do you have to be interested in horses to enjoy this story?
2. The Sultan looks like a camel to Agba. Does this view make Agba more or less fearful of him? Why?
3. Why is the ship's captain a bad man? How does he hurt Agba and Sham, and what later hardships does his cruelty cause for them?
4. Compare Signor Achmet to Titus Twickerham, both heads of stables. Which one do you think is a better judge of horses? How does each treat Agba and horses, especially Sham?
5. What opposite ideas or values do the wheat ear and the white spot, both markings on Sham's coat, suggest? Which symbol do you think dominates his life? Why?
6. A superstition is an assumption not based on fact but on an unproven belief. What are some important superstitions in this book? How are Agba and Sham affected by them?
7. At the end of the book, Agba returns to Morocco. Why does he go back? Have you been given any hints earlier in the book that this will happen? Do you think he should go back?
8. Marguerite Henry could have made Agba into a talking character. Do you think this would have been a good idea? Why or why not? Does the book mention any advantages to his muteness?
9. Critics have said that Henry's books are sentimental, a term that suggests that they overemphasize emotion at the expense of thematic depth. Do you think this is a just criticism? When the story does express sad feelings, is it true "sentiment" or emotional fluff?
10. What is Agba's religion? Do you think it is as strict as your own? Is Agba serious about his religion?
11. At the end of this book, when Sham's sons win at Newmarket, Agba feels his chin and notices he has a beard. Has Agba grown up in other ways since the beginning of the story?
12. In Newgate Jail, Sham's pedigree is torn from Agba's neck and destroyed. What does this loss mean to Agba and Sham?