Sunday, 26 June 2011

War Horse

I was drawn to this book after seeing the life-sized horse puppets in the theatrical version of War Horse. Former UK Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo usually has an entire shelf dedicated to him in most British book shops and this one, written nearly 30 years ago is one I can recommend to both children and adults alike. It tells the story of Joey, a half-thoroughbred red bay bought by a drunken farmer to spite another and beloved of the farmer's son. The events of 1913 shatters the pair's brief happiness as Joey is sold into a war of wire, mud and carnage. His first new owner is Captain Nicholls who takes Joey as his cavalry mount. He also meets his loyalest equine friend, a shining black stallion called Topthorn. It's all told from Joey's point of view as he tries to survive the unfathomable conflict and regain the company of his farmboy. Along the way he'll find kindness where he can find it, endure crippling work and health sapping conditions. Although Joey is often in the thick of the chaos the book never dwells closely on the bloody results beyond detailing the casualties and the effects of their loss. It's a quick read, engaging ,moving and a great excuse to get some history into young reader's minds.

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