Heyy all. This month I decided to read a few of the gazillion Morpurgo books that have been waiting on my bookshelf to be read for a couple decades because they were feeling a bit unloved. The ones I read are more like stories actually being told to you than books, which makes them all pretty short, so I’m doing mini reviews for them in one post. Hope you enjoy!
Who knew that one small wooden dog could have so much history behind it? When two mysterious men turn up on a beach, young Charley and Alex are determined to find out how their lives have intersected before. But for that, they will need to go back twenty years, to WWII and the people from opposing sides of the war that it brought together.
I read this book a long time ago and adored it, and still do now. It’s just such an incredible story of the war and, through all of its horrors, the smidgen of good that came out of it. The book is told in different parts: how the two pairs meet, the story the two men tell the children, their reunion with the children’s mother, and how after so many years, they can all finally let their wounds of the past heal. As we all know, I love a good war book with flashbacks and individual stories of how the war impacted people in so many different ways. A wonderful story told with wonderful illustrations. Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (8/10)
Billy the Kid
80-year-old Billy is sitting on a park bench, watching a football match and reminiscing about the days when he was out there, on the pitch, scoring goals for Chelsea. That was before he was torn from his home and family to the terrors of war. From playing football to the chants of “Billy, Billy the Kid!” to kicking a ball around with fellow soldiers in a prisoner-of-war camp, Billy never loses the hope of some day returning to the pitch. But to do that, he has to escape the camp and wander across Italy’s countryside to France, to the Americans, to safety, and it’s going to take more than a few football tricks to achieve.
Even though it’s about football which I’m not particularly a fan of, this book was probably my favourite of the four, maybe because it was just about one person and their experiences. I know most of these books don’t have very many characters either, but this book felt a lot more personal and I liked that. Billy told the whole truth, his flaws and his strengths, although there wasn’t much room for emotion, which is the one thing really missing from a book about war and life and death and family and friendship; but I shall accept it because in this type of story when it’s being told to you, there isn’t meant to be much emotion. Also, the young couple who let Billy live in their house after the war were so squishy-hearted and I’d love a lil story on how they met and their lives as kids and all that. I must write to Morpurgo immediately. Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (8/10)
The Dancing Bear
This is the tale of an orphan girl who finds a bear cub in the mountains where she lives, and the story of them growing up together. When a film crew arrive to shoot a music video in the village where they live, the now very large, grizzly bear is asked to dance in it. But how can you persuade a bear to dance?
This book was the shortest and because of that, it was probably my least favourite? The characters were slightly dull, but maybe that was just because there wasn’t much space for them to grow, in a sense. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable though; the drawings were beautiful and I loved how the story was told. Bruno, the bear, was the cutest and I want a pet bear please now so we can run away together, into the mountains and escape the horrible human things of the world. BEARS ARE JUST SO CUTE ARGH. I mean, when they’re not, you know, trying to eat your face and all. Overall, this is a beautiful but sad little tale of friendship told in a lovely way, as expected from Morpurgo. Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (7/10)
Young, um do they even tell us his name? I honestly don’t think he has one. I shall just call him Phil. So, young Phil feels most at home when he’s on his Grandpa’s farm down in Devon, driving his Grandpa’s tractor. But there’s a deeper meaning to why this tractor is the pride and joy of the family, and Phil is longing to discover what it is. Grandpa’s stories have always been one of his favourite things, along with raindrops on roses, obviously, and this summer, Grandpa might just tell him a tale, or even two, that he’ll never forget.
YES I KNOW THIS IS THE SEQUEL TO WAR HORSE WHICH I HAVEN’T READ BECAUSE I’M AN AWFUL HUMAN BEING. But who even needs to read War Horse when you can read Farm Boy in which Phil’s Grandpa basically summarises it in 10 pages at the start?? If you’re confused, Phil’s Grandpa is the son of Albert from War Horse, and Farm Boy, thought it never specifies when it’s set, is probably sometime in the 21st century. I love Devon and all things to do with farms seeing as farms and I have a close connection and always end up living very close to one another? So we know each other intimately. I also loved the characters and (mild spoiler) how Phil taught his Grandpa to read and it was just the cutest lil thing because I love my grandparents and there is a lot of grandparent appreciation in this. YAY FOR GRANDPARENT APPRECIATION. Clover count: ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣ (8/10)
There you have it peoples! I feel like shorter books like these are more difficult to review than larger books because there really isn’t much to talk about?? But I did still enjoy these stories. Short and sweet, right? What do you think about short stories?