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Keyword: ‘When Our Jack Went to War ’

When Our Jack went to War by Sandy McKay

May 13, 2013 Comments off

our jackWhen Our Jack Went to War by Sandy McKay. Pub. Longacre, 2013. 

A powerful novel told in letters from 18 year old Jack to his younger brother Tom from the battlefields of France and Belgium during World War 1.

Sandy McKay has shown the contrasting situations of the men in the trenches and how the war was portrayed by the Political leaders and the press at the time. The letters reflect this astonishing difference.

Tom’s letters from home are almost “boys own” in content and opinion. War is like a game, like hunting rabbits. You know however that this was the naive spirit and innocent enthusiasm that took young men to the battlefields of Europe for King and Country.

Jack’s letters start out with that innocence and enthusiasm. The big adventure, can’t wait to get their before it is all over, lets give the Hun a taste of their own medicine. Then the realities hit in as the slaughter begins. The men knew their leaders and decision makers were useless. They couldn’t do anything about it through fear of being shot as traitors. They took it and thousands were slaughtered for nothing.

It bothers me that Kiwi soldiers were paid less than the Aussies but more than the British. What cost a life?

Sandy McKay tells this story with class. Let the reader decide. To make the story more powerful she includes newspaper articles about the battles, about conscientious objectors and everything that was going on at home.

The last 15 pages will wrench your heart out.

High school and young adult in appeal.

Michael Morpurgo: War child to War Horse by Maggie Fergusson

July 24, 2012 Comments off

Michael Morpurgo: War child to War Horse by Maggie Fergusson. Pub. Fourth Estate, 2012.

I have read more than 20 of Michael Morpurgo’s books for children and every one of them is memorable. I started with the Wreck of the Zanzibar and recently read Private Peaceful, Running Wild, Elephant in the Garden, Shadow and War Horse.

There is always a touch of sadness about his books but his love for animals, the relationships he builds between the young and the old and the historical significance of his stories always impressed me.

But this biography challenged the way I had always thought Michael Morpurgo was and the life he must have led.

He was a sad and often lonely boy who lived with his brother Pieter, his theatrical mother Kippe and his passionless stepfather Jack. His connection with animals and farming only came after he was married with children and was involved with a project called Farming for City Children.

He was a private school boy who was average academically and he went to Sandhurst military Academy. He was friends with Ted Hughes, married the daughter of the founder of Penguin Books and was the third Children’s Laureate a position he helped to have recognised.

This insightful Biography is accompanied by seven original short stories about his response to each chapter. None is more prophetic than the last one. He had no time for fantasy and wanted to make children think and ask questions

Morpurgo says of his writing ” I write for the child inside myself that I still partly am”. That will do for me.

Senior secondary, young adult, and adult. One of the most important children’s writers ever.

Categories: Senior Fiction, Young Adult Tags: