War Horse – Michael Morpurgo

“My earliest Memories are a confusions of hilly fields and dark, damp stables, and rats that scampered along the beams above my head. But I remember well enough the day of the horse sale. The terror of it stayed with me all my life.”
Joey is bought out of vengeance; his new master was drunk and wanted to annoy a fellow farmer by out bidding him. Thankfully when the old man takes Joey home there’s Albert, the masters son, who can see the beauty in Joey and wants to take care of him. However war breaks out and Joey’s master is offered a hefty sum to give Joey to the soldiers so they can use him as military on the battlefield and Joey and Albert are broken apart by war. At just 15 Albert can’t join Joey so off he trots into the horrific throws of war. Can a friendship like theirs survive the battlefield or will the war destroy everything?

***

I love Michael Morpurgo, ever since I read Private Peaceful in college I have been recommending him to young boys and girls and urging parents that their kids should read his books! So when my work colleague said she was reading War Horse I was excited to hear what she thought. I hadn’t read the book and didn’t want to watch the movie until I had and when I told her this she offered to lend me the book, I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait much longer to read it as it was as exceptional as I thought it would be!
I knew this was a sad book, my work colleague was reading it at her desk and I kept seeing her dab her eyes and she kept saying it was so sad! When I finally started reading it I thought maybe I had a heart of stone because I didn’t really cry until half way through the book and she was crying within two chapters! Morpurgo’s writing does tend to be very emotional and I knew that already from Private Peaceful, but this was a true rollercoaster. I was laughing out loud one minute and crying my eyes out the next in places and I think it works brilliantly.
There’s a lot of death in this book, obviously; it’s about war, but there’s also a lot about friendship and I think that it provides a brilliant balance because of this. Joey is a loving soul and the people and other horses he meets throughout his story are just as amazing in places. I think my favourite bit has to be the part on No Man’s Land as that was beautiful, yet so sad too!
I really recommend this book to kids; I’d say anyone 8 plus would love it because of the way it’s written. It’s all from Joey’s point of view and that makes the deaths more manageable in a way. It teaches about the horrors of war in a way that no history teacher could and even with that in mind it’s still a beautiful book.
War Horse was first published in 1983, the edition I read was published in November 2011 by Egmont as a movie tie in. It was borrowed from a colleague.
  • Great review! I read my first Michael Morpurgo book a couple of weeks ago and now plan to catch up with more of his including both War Horse and Private Peaceful. Think I’ll need to be stocking up on the tissues!

  • I haven’t read any of Michael Morpurgo’s books yet. I really want to read this one before I see the film. Sounds sad though.

  • Morpurgo makes me cry so much, it’s embarrassing. I went to see the reading of Private Peaceful that they do with a group of singers, and it was amazing to be read to by him.

  • Aww I really loved this book but it made me cry so much (very bad as at the time I was sitting around a pool in florida lol). All Morpurgo’s books are fab though!

  • M

    Little M’s a huge Michael Morpurgo fan. War Horse is one of her favourites (obviously – war and horses!). She’s read the book, seen the film, and seen a bit of the live puppet show. I cried from beginning to end in the film.