The Mare's Egg
A New World Folk TaleBook - 1981
The Mare's Egg is a wonderful story about a gullible 19th century settler's search for a work horse -- one that isn't balky, won't nip, kick or run away -- to clear his new homestead.
A mischievous farmer leads him to believe that he can hatch a colt from a pumpkin, and sells him a bright orange "mare's egg." Indeed, he advises the immigrant that he can shorten the hatching period by spending every available moment sitting on the pumpkin, by the fire. The man sits and sits, weeks pass, the leaves fall. As winter approaches, the firewood pile begins to dwindle. The man finally realizes that the egg will not hatch. Disheartened, he disposes of it in a way that gives him fresh hope that horses can be hatched from "mare's eggs." And, no wiser from his experience, he sets off to buy another.
The text is amusing, instructive, and a pleasure to read aloud. The illustrations are brilliant, setting the humorous mood for children. Margaret Atwood's three-page afterword on the real difficulties faced by the pioneers, adds a fine historical perspective.