- Michael Morpurgo
Publisher: Egmont PressJoey is a warhorse, but he wasn't always. Once, he was a farm horse and a gentle boy named Albert was his master. Then World War I came storming through and everything changed. Albert's father sells Joey to the army where the beautiful, red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off of battlefields. Amongst the clamoring of guns and slogging through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. And if it does, will he ever find Albert again?
When so many teen and children’s books are now aiming towards high word and page count, it’s refreshing to pick up a book that is less than 200 pages. Even more surprising is just how moving and emotional War Horse considering it’s slim size. I’ve previously seen the War Horse stage show and film so I had a good idea of what to expect but I still ended up in tears on several occasions during the couple of hours or so it took to read this book.
Joey starts on the farm, growing up with Albert before ending up sold to the cavalry at the start of the first world war and follows his trials and tribulations throughout the war. Joey is a remarkably strong horse who does whatever he is told to – through charging barbed wire on the front to pulling the massive machine guns through mud. He is never asked what he wants or given much thanks – much like many of the human soldiers on both sides during the war. I don’t want to give too much away, but Michael Morpurgo manages to create vivid characters – both human and horse with minimal words, allowing their actions to speak for their themselves.
By the end of the novel, I felt like a complete emotional wreck and was utterly grateful to all the animals we have working for us, not just a hundred years ago, but those we continue to use today. They deserve so much.
Recommended for fans of Dick King-Smith and John Boyne. 10 out of 10.