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Michael Morpurgo is one of the most successful children's authors in the country, loved by children, teachers and parents alike. He has written more than forty books for children, including the global hit War Horse, which was made into a Hollywood film by Steven Spielberg in 2011. He has won the Whitbread Award, the Smarties Award, the Circle of Gold Award, the Children's Book Award and has been short-listed for the Carnegie Medal four times.
Gr 5-8-Eleven-year-old Cessie is thrilled when the elderly, rain-soaked tramp staring at her house turns out to be the grandfather she's never known. Her mother also accepts "Popsicle." Her father, who hasn't seen his dad since he was five years old, is less than enthusiastic. However, when the older man has a stroke and can't remember where he lives, Arthur relents and lets him stay with his family while he recuperates. Eventually, Cessie's parents place him in the Shangri-La nursing home. The girl then takes action, finding his home, an old lifeboat named Lucie Alice, and in it a faded photograph of a young French woman and a news clipping from which she learns that the boat had been part of the heroic evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk. These items help restore Popsicle's memory and renew his zeal for returning to France to find this woman who had hidden him from the Germans after he was jolted off the lifeboat. Cessie secretly accompanies her grandfather and several other escapees from Shangri-La on an improbable journey across the English Channel. Saddened to learn that the woman hasn't been seen since the Germans arrested her in 1940, Popsicle and his crew head back to England. The family is reunited on the dock and the story ends all neat and tidy. Too neat and tidy, in fact, as are many other contrived plot elements. Aside from Popsicle, the characters lack depth and are fed to readers in such a piecemeal fashion that it is difficult to identify with them and to rejoice at their eventual reunion.-Peggy Morgan, The Library Network, Southgate, MI