I began teaching in a primary school in the then slum of Fulham, London, in the late 1950s. I had wept my way through teaching practices. I knew one just had to be well-planned and interesting. I was given a class of forty 7-8 year olds, C stream. I hadn't learnt how to tell them I was well-planned and interesting. I managed to keep my weeping to Sunday nights. Everyone said, "You'll give up" .
One Sunday evening when I'd gone home to where my mother helped me make interesting aids, I found "The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse". I made a minature model of him as an extra interesting aid. The following Monday afternoon, I gave this model to a boy who had shown no sign of being capable of sitting in one spot for more than two seconds and said "You can hold this while I read a story to you and when I read the next chapter tomorrow I will give it to the person who sits quietest now. He sat frozen for the whole session, as did the rest of the class. From then, every day ended with a quiet room and when the bell rang I could point to a group and say "You can leave", and then another. I began to survive.
How do Seahorses come in? One of the most overwhelming incidences in the story is when the little wooden horse is swimming back across the sea with his hollow body full of golden sovereigns for his starving master. He is challenged by real seahorses who try to drown him because he dares to call himself a "horse". Later in life when I was half teaching and half making sculptures I made a few models of how I thought these seahorses would have been, and even later in rash old age I had a six foot version cast by the Tassis foundry in Athens.