Thursday, 22 May 2014

Michael Morpurgo

My favourite Michael Morpurgo books are Private Peaceful, War Horse and Waiting for Anya. He manages to make you feel the pain and hardship of the world wars in a vivid and real way bringing you close to the heart of each of the characters. Morpurgo's other books aren't as gripping and I would defiantly advise that if you could only read one of his books it would be War Horse, Private Peaceful or Waiting For Anya.

Toro! Toro!

Toro! Toro! is set in Spain during the civil war and is the story of a young boy and his family. His father breeds bulls for the bull rink and his Uncle is a famous Bull fighter but what Michael doesn't know is that the bulls don't always survive.

This book is sad but I think that in the end so many members of his family die abruptly and without the reader having any attachment to them that it isn't very emotional. I think this is partly because I was too old for it and also because Michael Morpurgo's other books are so engaging and emotional.

The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
This was a very interesting story about a girl in one of the world wars. It's not Private Peaceful or War Horse but it is gripping and the fact it is about a little girl and a cat makes it very different from anything else Morpurgo has written.

This story shows the way people at home in England were effected in a very dramatic and effective way, this little girl is not affected by real bombs and guns but instead by the bombs the soldiers used to practice. She is confronted with her own small war.

King of the Cloud Forests
This was the first fantasy/fact book that I had read by Michael Morpurgo and to be honest it isn't that good. The plot line is interesting but the emotions and resolution aren't captivating and unlike his other books

Michael lives with his father and uncle Sung in China peacefully enough until the outbreak of war. Japanese bombers constantly threaten them and there are others who hate missionaries and only need a little push before they become violent as well.

King of the Cloud Forests is a good relaxing read but there are plenty of better Michael Morpurgo books worth reading.

Why the Wales Came
Michael Morpurgo's books are generally to do with war or animals, sometimes he incorporates the two. My favourite Michael Morpurgo book has to be either War Horse or Private Peaceful both of which are very emotional and made me burst into tears. Why the Wales Came is another book that involves both war and animals but neither of them are involved directly.

Samson is haunted, no one knows by what or who, but it is. No one's tested it, no one needs too, they all know they have to stay away. They also keep as far away from the Birdman as possible, he isn't normal, they think he made the curse. That's why when Gracie and David go to play with their boats on his part of the island they can't tell anyone.

This book is a great break from anything more challenging you might be reading, for example Arabian Nights or The Wouldbegoods.

The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt By Day by Scott O'Dell

Far from being anything to do with Hawks this book tells the tale of William Tyndale and how the first English bible made it's way into England. Following young Tom Barton and his uncle Jack this book describes the dangers and trials not only of getting the bible into the country but also of how the ordinary folks were treated by their seniors. The bible was purposely in Latin so that everyday people could be fooled into believing things that weren't actually in the bible. Tyndale's work gave everyone the opportunity to read God's word for themselves and changed the way England worked.

Scott O'Dell manages to twist fact with fiction to create a story that is both informative and interesting. The fictional characters he adds to the story are so well blended that it is hard to tell which are true and which false. My favourite thing about this story is that it brings this period of history alive in a way history books don't.

By far the most interesting character in this book is William Tyndale, he is willing to sacrifice his life for his work, nothing is more important to him than giving the bible to all people. Translating the bible into English changed England dramatically and the King and important people within the church new this and that is why they didn't want Tyndale's work to continue. Continually on the run from his persecutors William Tyndale's life was always endangered but he still persevered.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

The truths behind this book are tragic, the meaning horrific, the story line gripping. Throughout the whole book you know what is going to happen, you wait for it, expecting it but still dreading the conclusion, it isn't a surprise but it is terrible.

Bruno is extremely easy to sympathise with because of his childish character but I also tended to get annoyed with him because he was so unaware of what was going on. Even when he meets Shmuel and sees the horrible way he is treated and how he lives Bruno still doesn't realise what is going on and neither does Shmuel. The innocence and complete unawareness of the two children is what creates the tension and emotions of the book and the injustice of war the concentration camp is shown through their confusion and mistakes.

When I read this I was gripped by how real John Boyne makes his book. Every moment of betrayal and cruelty is brought home by the innocence of the two children and their misunderstanding. The ultimate trust they have in each other is amazing and John Boyne captures Bruno's unwavering trust in his father, a man so horrible and yet of whom he is proud. This book is well worth reading and I sincerely recommend the film when you finish.

The film follows the book almost perfectly, nothing is changed, because nothing needs to be, John Boyne's book is so complete that to change anything new would be to loose some of the innocence or the emotion that he has managed to create. The film does add to the readers understanding and show you clues to what is coming but more or less it is exactly the same as the book.