Friday, October 21, 2011

War Horse - Michael Morpurgo

War Horse
Michael Morpurgo
Egmont Books
Copyright: 2010
978-1405255431

The amazon.com product description:
In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again? 
To be honest, War Horse is a a book I picked up on a whim, seeing a whole stack of the movie tie-in edition at work. Turns out, this is a book that's a spectacular, if quick read. Especially in the edition I was reading: the hardcover Deluxe edition, which is lavishly illustrated with little watercolour renderings of the various scenes in the book.

In many ways War Horse reminded me of the classic Black Beauty. Like that book, this one is written from the perspective of the horse, and starts while Joey is just a colt, tracing his life all the way through WWI and the various owners he had.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the way that both the English and the Germans were treated throughout the course of the story - neither side being demonized by the other or the author. There's one incident especially that I liked in the No Man's Land between the trenches. It reminded me of some of the stories I've heard 3rd hand from that war: about one Christmas when the Germans had a wind-up record player and they deliberately played the music in such a way as to share it with the English soldiers in the trench on the other side of the no man's land.

War Horse was full of little anecdotes that left me smiling throughout, as well as a few times which were utterly heartbreaking. Nonetheless, it's a great read - one I'd recommend for both older children and teens, boys and girls alike.

And, to top it off, the book is being done as a movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. The trailer looks good, and the bit of the soundtrack we hear is incredible. In short, this is one movie I'd really like to see.
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