Shemin, Margaretha

About the author

Margaretha Shemin (b.1928) was born in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, and educated at the University of Leiden. She moved to America, and worked as a children’s librarian while producing her books. All her titles are set in Holland, and all aim to challenge stereotypes of the Dutch and their country. Her stories The Empty Moat (1969) and The Little Riders (1963) were based on her own experiences during World War II, when her doctor father was active in the Dutch resistance. The Little Riders is, just about, a horse story: it tells of a child’s struggle to save something that has become totemic to her: the leaden horses and riders from the church tower. The book was made into a film by Disney in 1996.

Finding the book
Still in print.

Links and sources
Dictionary of American Children’s Fiction, 1960-1984: Recent Books …, Volume 2
Terri Wear: Horse Stories: An Annotated Bibliography


The Little Riders

Coward-McCann, New York, 1963, 60 pp, illus Peter Spier
Hamish Hamilton, London, 1964, 92 pp, illus Janet Duschesne
Putnam’s, New York, 1988, 76 pp, illus Peter Spier
Harpercollins Children’s Books, 1993

Johanna goes to stay with her grandfather in his Dutch village. When her father leaves her there, neither have any idea they won’t see each other for four years. The Germans invade, and Johanna and her grandfather have a German soldier boarded with them. That is bad enough, but they also worry about the lead riders and horses on the church tower: a target for the Germans to melt down to use for weaponry.