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Synopses & Reviews
From the Children's Laureate of England, a stunning novel of the First World War, a boy who is on its front lines, and a childhood remembered.
"They've gone now, and I'm alone at last. I have the whole night ahead of me, and I won't waste a single moment of it . . . I want tonight to be long, as long as my life . . ." For young Private Peaceful, looking back over his childhood while he is on night watch in the battlefields of the First World War, his memories are full of family life deep in the countryside: his mother, Charlie, Big Joe, and Molly — the love of his life. Too young to be enlisted, Thomas has followed his brother to war and now, every moment he spends thinking about his life, means another moment closer to danger.
"Morpurgo's (Kensuke's Kingdom) suspenseful, ultimately tragic novel opens as 18-year-old Tommo Peaceful stays up all night 'to try to remember everything.' The author plants clues as to the narrator's sense of urgency with a framing structure: each chapter begins with Tommo's thoughts in the present, then flashes back to a memory. The novel divides into two parts: Tommo and his brother Charlie's lives before they enlist in WWI and during it. Before the war, their lives in rural England seem almost idyllic — except for Tommo's 'terrible secret' (their forester father is killed by a falling tree when he pushes Tommo from its path). Their loving, closeknit family includes a retarded older brother and sweet Molly, a schoolmate whom Tommo and Charlie both love (and who winds up married to Charlie). Tommo recalls how his brother constantly looked after him, and readers observe Charlie's stalwart sense of loyalty and his refusal to bend to authority. How these qualities in Charlie manifest themselves, both before and during the war, play out dramatically yet realistically in both brothers' lives. On the frontlines in France, Tommo recounts the horrors of war: hellish conditions, friends killed and a cruel sergeant who hates Charlie. Readers will come away with a clear picture of a very different era. This is a moving depiction of a loving relationship between two brothers, their lives so linked that readers may wonder until the end whose fate lies in the balance. All in all, a powerful story about war's costs, and who pays the price. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the Children's Laureate of England comes a stunning novel about the First World War. Private Thomas Peaceful has lied about his age to enlist. As Thomas stands night watch, his memories are full of his childhood. But each moment brings him closer to something he cannot bear to think about.
About the Author
Michael Morpurgo, former Children's Laureate of Britain, is the author of War Horse, called Superb" by the New York Times Book Review, and now a major motion picture. His other prize-winning books include Kensuke's Kingdom, Private Peaceful, and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips. Michael lives in Devon, England, with his wife, Clare. Together, they founded the charity Farms for City Children, which gives children from urban areas an opportunity to spend a week working on a farm in the countryside. You can find out more about him and his books at michaelmorpurgo.org.
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