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Comments

Caroline

Thanks for awonderful review, Danielle.
I thought he did a great job and it was very heartbreaking. I was so interested to see how he would deal with trench warfare for a younger audience - and he did it so well.
The early chapters were a bit slow but I understood why he wrote them later. They allow easy idenification and caring for the character's fate.

cath

Beautiful review Danielle, I will hopefully be able to find this and read it later in the year.

vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

This sounds heart-breaking but also a great way for people who have only the received wisdom of school history to think about other sides to the war that we don't hear about so much. I've not read any of his books - or seen War Horse - but they sound great.

litlove

My son read this when he was in school and thought it was very good. My feeling is that if school doesn't ruin a book, it must be amazing! Beautiful review, Danielle, of what sounds like a properly poignant and moving novel.

Stefanie

This is a YA book? I'm really impressed by that not to mention it sounds like a beautifully written book.

Danielle

It did start out a little slow but I am actually quite glad he eased into it all. I am lately so apprehensive starting war stories (this next one should be interesting!) that it was almost a relief that it seemed to be more of a 'homefront' book at first. Of course it quickly became apparent that something awful was going to happen. I was for sure the ending would be different--that it was going to be Tommo being held for cowardice, so it was an ending that came a little unexpectedly. Morpurgo definitely knows how to write for a YA audience--nothing to graphic yet nothing dumbed down either. Excellent choice and a nice break in between books written for an adult audience.

Danielle

Thanks Cath, I think this is a story you will very much appreciate. It is a gentle sort of read yet harrowing in its way, too. Definitely a nice addition to WWI literature. It is also a fairly quick read and my copy was nicely formatted.

Danielle

It didn't dawn on me until I read the afterword that he also wrote War Horse (the play was just here in Omaha and my library--Me!--ordered the script for our collection). Strangely I have a hard time reading war books that are about animals so I have not been able to bring myself to read (or watch War Horse). Private Peaceful is a very accessible story, however--even if it makes for hard reading at parts. Nicely presented for a young audience and a great discussion book. I didn't want to give any details of the ending away, but you might already know the twist--I am almost shocked that the British government has never pardoned soldiers for 'cowardly acts' during war. It is almost ludicrous and maddening.

Danielle

Isn't that the truth! Why is it that so many wonderful books are totally ruined by high school English classes. I never picked up a Willa Cather book until my 20s thanks to having her work crammed down our throats--thankfully we never actually read any of the books (but being a Nebraska author she was much discussed!). And now I love WC! I can easily see how young adults would enjoy and appreciate this story--and I know your son was not always especially enamored by reading so it is quite a compliment to Morpurgo that he thought well of it! :)

Danielle

Yes, it certainly had a very adult theme, but then I have read a number of YA novels that dealt with really prickly issues and did so very well. It is very well written and nicely presented--definitely one to add to your list if you have any inclination for reading something about WWI at some point.

Denise Rogers

It sounds a bit like like a chapter from Tim O'Brien's The Things We Carried. He talks about not slipping over the border to Canada when called up for service in Vietnam in the same way as this author does. He says you go because you are a coward--you are afraid to disappoint your friends and family; you are afraid to be the source of their being ostracized; you go because you are afraid to be cut off from your country (death might be preferable); you go because of peer pressure, in other words, not out of patriotism.

I'm glad this book has come out; it seems to me that young people, who might soon enlist in the military, should have some books that talk honestly about war. Right now the YA market is flooded with dystopian novels set in fictional worlds. There is room for a book like this one.

Danielle

Yes, there is definitely room for a book like this--it is so well done. Have you read it, too? I loved The Things They Carried and now that you mention it, I recall that 'story' within the book. How many men must have felt this and thought it and went to war anyway--the worst kind of peer pressure. Thanks so much for pointing out the similarities between the books--isn't it wonderful when these connections between books come up--and in such vastly different stories (other than both being war stories), too! I like Dystopian, but sometimes a particular subject is totally overmarketed--if one book does well, everyone else must then jump on the bandwagon rather than coming up with something new and different!

LizF

It is a heartbreaker that's for sure, but definitely a book which should be read by young people.
My daughter read it at school when she was 11 and was very impressed by it - it lead her on to asking me for more books about WW1 and at that stage there were only a couple I could recommend - War Horse and All Quiet on the Western Front (she had a reading age of 16 at the time so I knew she would cope with the latter)
I read both Private Peaceful and War Horse in floods of tears but I do recommend the latter - although I am not sure that I will ever get around to watching either the play or the film of it (well maybe the film on DVD when there is no one around to laugh at me for being sentimental!)

Danielle

Why is it that I can't handle films that are violent and have to do with animals? Honestly I have never been able to read or watch The Yearling by Marjorie K Rawlings. Maybe I will give War Hose a go? I really liked Private Peaceful and can see how it would get kids interested and asking questions--it was very well done. I still have not read All Quiet on the Western Front--maybe I can still manage it this year? And how did you get on with Regeneration? It sits by my bedside--I just need to spend time with it to get into the story. Hope all is well with you Liz! :)

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