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National Museum publishes new children’s book by acclaimed author Jackie French

28 October 2015

Horace, a very big horse with an even bigger heart, is the hero of a new children's book, Horace the Baker’s Horse, which is published and launched today by the National Museum of Australia.

Written by acclaimed author Jackie French, Horace the Baker’s Horse is inspired by a historic baker’s cart in the National Museum's collection and based on a true story told to Jackie by her grandmother.

Jackie French is the Australian National Children’s Laureate for 2014 and 2015 and the Senior Australian of the Year for 2015. The book is beautifully illustrated by Peter Bray.

Set in 1919 during the Spanish influenza epidemic, Horace the Baker’s Horse captures a time when horses were part of everyday Australian life. It tells the story of how the trusty baker’s horse sets off on his well-trodden round to deliver bread to townsfolk all by himself, when Big Bill the baker is struck down by the flu.

The Museum's baker’s cart is featured at the back of the book.

Jackie French said, “The story of Horace is a true one, or as true as it is possible for any whisper from the past to be.

“My grandmother told me his story – every generation faces its challenges and sometimes it’s unlikely heroes like Horace, a horse with big feet and a bigger heart, who save lives as well as bringing joy,” said Ms French.

National Museum Director Dr Mathew Trinca said he was delighted by the collaboration.

“It's exciting to imagine the Museum's collection inspiring authors and children across Australia,” said Dr Trinca.

National Museum senior curator Dr Martha Sear said, “It’s good to remember just how recently horse-drawn vehicles were part of everyday life in Australia.

“We're excited to bring the bakery cart to life in this wonderful book and we hope it inspires children to explore the important role horses have played in Australia's history,” said Dr Sear.

The National Museum’s cart – ‘Bakery cart no. 168’ – delivered bread from the Newcastle & Suburban Co-operative Society, well into the 1970s. Delivering more than 100,000 loaves of bread a week across the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, the co-operative was once the largest bakery in the Southern Hemisphere.

Horace the Baker’s Horse is available from the National Museum’s shop and all good book retailers.

For more information please contact Ashley Grimmer, (02) 6208 5091 – 0409 461 619 – media@nma.gov.au