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Private Peaceful
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Michael Morpurgo, high-profile author and Children's Laureate New book from a master storyteller An emotional, heartwarming story Historical interest in WWI Our own BIRDSONG for children

About the Author

Michael Morpugo is the third Children's Laureate, and is one of the most well-known and best-loved of children's authors. He has written over ninety books, short stories, screenplays and two musicals, and has won many prizes, both here and in Europe, including the Whitbread Award for The Wreck of the Zanzibar, the Children's Book Award for Kensuke's Kingdom, and the Writers' Guild Award and the Smarties Prize for The Butterfly Lion.

Reviews

Gr 7 Up-At 15, Thomas Peaceful, like many other English soldiers in World War I, is too young to fight, but he lies about his age. Now at the front in France with his older brother Charlie he stands a lonely nighttime vigil for reasons that are not explained until the book's end, watching the minutes tick by and reflecting on his past. Using first-person narration, Morpurgo draws readers into this young man's life, relating memories that are idyllic, sobering, and poignant. Tommo thinks upon the role he played in his father's accidental death, the adventures that he shared with Charlie, his relationship with his childhood friend Molly, and the experiences that he has had since entering the war. Finally, he describes how Charlie disobeyed a direct order to stay with him after he was wounded in action, fully aware of this decision's dire consequences. While this story is not based on any one individual, Morpurgo has personalized the British tactic of executing their own soldiers "for cowardice or desertion," memorializing these men without passing judgment. While readers see the events through Tommo's eyes, the author does not lose sight of the war's effects on the teen's friends and family. Reminders come in the form of letters from home, relationships with other soldiers, and observations of battles. This thoughtful novel touches on themes of humanity and duty, and features brilliant characters whose personal decisions have earned them their very own badges of honor.-Delia Fritz, Mercersburg Academy, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

His [Tommo's] journey from agricultural labourer to cannon fodder is movingly told...Michael Morpurgo is expert at getting through to his readers. He writes here about events that should never be forgotten nor forgiven, and does so most effectively. Independent ...full of warmth as well as grief, conveying vividly how precious it is to be alive... Sunday Times The best novel he's written since The Butterfly Lion. Times Deserved to last as an insight into the First World War in the same way as, say, The Silver Sword or Goodnight Mr Tom. Telegraph A poignant, elegiac novel. Daily Mail

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.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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