Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Old Series But a Timeless Story

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
(Classic Fiction)

I admit that I only picked this up to read because of the Spielberg movie but I'm not sorry that I did.  It was surprisingly and refreshingly old-fashioned and a reader just needs that every once in awhile.

Joey is a farm horse and has a real connection with his owner, young Albert.  Albert's drunken father sells Joey to keep the family farm.  Joey suddenly goes from being a gently worked farm horse to a true war horse, being used to pull carts and artillery during heavy fighting.  His horror and surprise are evident in every sentence during the entire book and it doesn't take horse sense to see the absolute brutality man can inflict on both beast and human.  Joey's only friend is another horse, Tophorn, and he never gives up hope he might see Albert again one day.

The story is told from the point of view of Joey and the sentences are written very short and terse.  Much of the book skips over entire periods of time but perhaps this is how horses think and talk?  The ending is a bit predictable but is still very sweet and a tear-jerker.  (Okay, I weeped at the end, I'll admit it.)

This is apparently the first in a series.  It also makes a great companion piece to Black Beauty.  I am intrigued by the idea of a classroom lesson: have the boys read War Horse and the girls read Black Beauty to discuss the stories from a gender point of view.

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