Thursday, August 22, 2013

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo: Review

Star Rating

"Some in the village, only a very few now and fewer as each year goes by, remember Joey as he was. His story is written so that neither he nor those who knew him, nor the war they lived and died in, will be forgotten."

I am a sucker for emotional animal tales. I was that kid who cried uncontrollably when they thought Shadow had died in 'Homeward Bound.' I was also that fully grown adult who cried hysterically when the dog died in 'Marley and Me'. I know what you're thinking... I must have some weird emotional attachment to dogs. Nope! I also cried like a baby in "Life Of Pi' when the tiger, Richard Parker, left. What can I say, I feel more empathy for animals than people.

War Horse

As predicted, this powerful story of trust and friendship, is deeply moving and I found myself wanting to cry having merely read the author's note. (Ridiculous I know). It tells the tale of the strong and fine horse, Joey, who is sold at market to go and live with a farmer and his son, Albert. Joey and Albert quickly build a deep bond and the horse is loved and cared for. Until the day Albert's father sells Joey to a captain in the cavalry and he is thrown into the chaos of war. Feeling betrayed and devastated, Albert promises that one day, somehow, he will find Joey and bring him home. 

At only 182 pages, this is a very short story but it has been written superbly. The right amount of detail and description is given by the author to make the reader really care about what happens to Joey and his friend Topthorn as they experience the perils of war. When I first discovered that the story was being told from the voice of the horse I must admit I did have a little chuckle to myself. It was a strange concept to be hearing about the First World War from the viewpoint of a HORSE but, surprisingly, it worked and it was more than just another 'horsey' book. 

Putting my teacher's hat on, I think this would be a fantastic book to use as a 'whole class read' for any year groups studying the First World War. It depicts the emotion, pain and turmoil of war and is a thoroughly enjoyable read! 

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