War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Published: 1982

Genre: middle grade historical fiction

Length: 165 pages

Setting: mostly Belgium, during WWI

Interest: It was the book chosen for our first American History Club meeting of the school year about WWI

Summary: Joey, the horse, is bought on a whim and raised on a farm in Devon, England. Albert, the son of the family, raises and trains Joey and the two share a close bond. Joey is sold to be a British cavalry horse, but he is captured by the Germans on one of his first cavalry charges. The Germans use him to pull an ambulance from the front lines. He spends the winter on a farm in Belgium, but is requisitioned to pull a cannon for the Germans the next year. Joey gets free during a bombardment and ens up in no-man’s-land. He’s taken back to the British side where he is reunited with Albert, who works at the vet hospital.

Final thoughts: This is a great book for middle-aged kids to read about WWI. It demonstrates many of the changes that WWI brought to fighting war, without being too graphic. We get a taste of the trenches and bombardments, but again, not the gory details of dead and dying bodies in no-man’s-land.

Joey makes an excellent surrogate for a solider in the war. He even had a horse friend that stayed with him most of the story, but dies because he couldn’t handle the stress of the battlefield. We strongly feel Joey’s sense of loss at that time. We also see that Joey engenders a fierce loyalty in the people around him who love animals. He’s willing to do anything for the people, and they’re willing to do the same for him. Overall, an excellent book that I highly recommend to any kid who wants to read about WWI. I’m wondering how well the movie follows the book, and whether or not it’s appropriate for children. Anyone seen it and care to comment?

Title comes from: The main character, Joey, is a horse who goes to war in WWI

Reading challenges fulfilled: 69/100 in my 100 Book Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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2 Comments

Filed under Book review

2 responses to “War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

  1. The stage show with life-sized puppets is amazing and absolutely a must-see if it comes anywhere near where you live…it’s probably not suitable for very young children, but if yours can cope with the book they’d probably handle it, although the ending is a little different.

    It’s a long time since I saw the movie, but there are a few more deaths than in the book or stage show, and the ending is different again (although closer to the book than the stage show).

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