Thursday, April 15, 2010

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Title: War Horse
Author: Michael Morpurgo
ISBN: 9780545057981, Scholastic, 2008
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Rating: A

First Line: My earliest memories are a confusion of hilly fields and dark, damp stables and rats that scampered along the beams above my head.

Joey was born and raised on an English farm and trained by a young boy named Albert. When World War I begins, Albert's father needs money and sells Joey to the Army as a cavalry horse. Although too young to join up, Albert vows to be reunited with his horse.

Fortunately for Joey, his Army captain is an honorable man who loves horses and takes good care of him, teaching Joey things that will keep him alive in the days ahead. Joey also makes friends with another cavalry horse named Topthorn. One day in battle, both horses' riders are killed, and the horses are captured by the Germans to pull heavy munitions. Through it all, Joey never forgets Albert and wonders if they will ever be reunited.

This is a wonderful story-- on par with Black Beauty-- about the effects of war on both animals and people. Morpurgo proves adept at describing the horrors of war without being graphic. As Joey moves from the British side to the German, the people he must deal with show that, no matter the language or the uniform, we are all the same.

Knowing how military strategists on both sides tended to think of the men (and animals) under their command as so much cannon fodder, Joey's fate is not all that certain. Morpurgo makes the reader care about the young horse and what happens to it and the people with whom it comes in contact. I would recommend this book to both young and old.


  1. Now here's one I could have easily passed on by -- but I like the sound of it and I love horse stories...

  2. This seems like a very sweet story. I know a YA person who would like it and will steer her towards it.

  3. I read another of Morpurgo's WWI books a couple of years ago--Private Peaceful--and it was extremely moving. I've been thinking of trying another of his many, many books, and now I'm thinking this one is it. Great review!

  4. Now I want to know if Joey and Albert are united - great review!

  5. How interesting--a war story from a horse's point of view!! I like it!

  6. It sounds wonderful. I loved Black Beauty and the Black Stallion books when I was younger. I'll have to snag myself a copy.

  7. Psst...Cathy, I'm still waiting for the rest of your WalMart story ;-)

  8. Beth-- I love horse stories, too.

    Margot JR-- I'm glad!

    Katy--Thanks for the heads up on Private Peaceful!

    Kathy-- That's the whole spoilers so you'll read the book! LOL

    Kim-- What? You've never known anyone who was thrown out of Wal-Mart? ;)

    Kris-- Black Beauty, Marguerite Henry, Sam Savitt, and Walter Farley. Oh how many dreams they inspired when I was little!

  9. I love war stories and this one is irresistible. I'm putting this into my wish list.


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