A good read for children: War Horse

war horseWritten by Michael Morpungo, this novel is based on the fact that horses were used during World War l to carry men into battle and to pull heavy war machinery. Many soldiers developed close bonds with the horses, and these bonds would serve to pull many back from the brink of despair at the horrible toll of war. This story is told from the horse’s point of view, Joey, a farm horse from England sold to an Army Captain by the farmer who owned him. His son, Albert, is devastated when he learns of this, having grown up with Joey.  As the tale continues, the reader experiences the war years as seen through Joey’s eyes.

After speaking to a World War veteran who had been part of a regiment utilizing horses, Morpungo became inspired to write a story about the horrors of war as seen through a horse’s eyes. He then met a young boy who came to his farm as part of a charity Morpungo founded in 1976 for inner city kids. The boy was a stammerer, yet  able to speak to one of the farm horses without a single stutter. Morpungo then decided to write a story about the bond between men and horses, set during the time period of the Great War.

After publication, War Horse met with critical acclaim in 1982, having been runner up to the Whitbread Award, which is chosen by the Booksellers of Great Britain and Ireland. It was released as a Steven Spielberg film in 2011.

I would recommend this for grades 5 and up, and be forewarned– it is a tear jerker.

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